The spine just like any other parts of the body may suffer from wear and tear and may lead to degeneration. While other parts of the body may have localized effects, degeneration in the spine may lead to various limitations as the spine is responsible for containing the nerves that connect different organs to the brain. This section discusses what spinal degeneration is, its symptoms, causes and ways to prevent it, including visits to your local Lutz chiropractor.
What is Spinal Degeneration?
Spinal degeneration or degenerative spinal disease is a condition that involves the wearing of the spinal discs overtime. These discs are soft tissues located in between each vertebra, which serve as a shock absorber and also allows the vertebrae to twist, bend and flex. When spinal degeneration occurs, these discs usually age and may limit the range of motion of the spinal column. Spinal degeneration may develop in all parts of the spine, but most common areas include the cervical and lumbar region.
Symptoms of Spinal Degeneration
Degeneration of the spine may result in various symptoms. The most common of which is pain at the level of the degeneration downwards. Pain may be individualized as each patient may have different levels of pain. In some, they may be pain-free while some may have intense pain that limits or impairs their activity levels. Pain usually radiates from the level of the spine affected to the different areas where the underlying nerve innervates. For instance, spinal degeneration on the neck may lead to shoulder and arm pain while lumbar degeneration may lead to leg or thigh pain.
Since the disc degenerates, it may also cause disc herniation as a result of wear and tear of the capsule that holds it allowing the disc to protrude in between the vertebrae. In some instances, osteoarthritis may also develop along with spinal stenosis or the narrowing of the space in the spine.
Causes of Spinal Degeneration
Spinal degeneration is commonly a result of aging wherein the spinal discs eventually become worn out as a result of age-related processes that happen in the body. When aging occurs, the fluids inside the discs may be depleted causing a reduced ability of the disc to absorb shock. The loss of fluid can also lead to thinning of the discs and overall loss of flexibility. Aside from the loss of fluid, a worn out disc may also cause cracks on the outer layer leading to herniated disc as the jelly like substance may protrude in between these cracks.
Another common cause of spinal degeneration is direct physical trauma to the spine, which may also cause problems in the vertebrae itself.
While aging is the primary reason for spinal degeneration, there are other predisposing factors that may be considered. These include smoking and obesity due to circulation problems and increased tension on the discs as the spine bears more weight.
Treatments for Spinal Degeneration
Spinal degeneration rarely requires surgery. In fact, conservative treatments such as physical therapy, traction, anti-inflammatory medications and chiropractic care can help alleviate symptoms. If you are suffering from back pain or neck pain and feel that you might have spinal degeneration, talk to a chiropractor for prompt diagnosis and treatment.