Aging Spine

As the spine ages, a number of conditions can result in chronic pain in various parts of your body, NOT JUST YOUR NECK OR BACK. As we age, it is very important to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle including strengthening and flexibility exercises. Focusing on good posture and not smoking is also key. Some of the more common disorders in the spine include:

Herniated disc – trauma or injury to a disc resulting in the disc protruding

Disc degeneration – when discs dry out and lose their ability to cushion the vertebrae

Spinal stenosis – the narrowing of the canal that houses the spinal cord and nerve roots

Spondylolisthesis – when a vertebra slips out of line with an adjacent vertebra

To a large extent, these spinal disorders are not problems in themselves. The trouble starts when they put pressure on the nearby nerve roots or spinal cord, causing pain, numbness, or even paralysis in the limbs. Pinched nerves can be treated with anti-inflammatory medications, steroid injections, physical therapy, or surgery, with the aim being to relieve pressure on the nerve by increasing the space around it.

Deciding the right way to treat your neck or back pain begins with an accurate diagnosis, which involves a thorough spine evaluation and the use of tools such as MRI and electrodiagnostics.

Cervical Spine- The upper part of the spine (neck area) that supports your head is called the cervical spine. The neck must allow for a significant amount of movement, in addition to supporting the weight of the head. Unlike the rest of the spine, which is relatively protected from injury, the cervical spine has a relatively small number of muscles and ligaments that surround and protect it from injury.

Neck pain may result from abnormalities in the soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, or nerves) or in the vertebrae or joints of the cervical spine. The most common causes of neck pain are degenerative diseases (such as arthritis) or soft tissue abnormalities following injury. IN SOME INDIVIDUALS, NECK PROBLEMS MAY CAUSE PAIN/TINGLING/WEAKNESS FELT IN THE UPPER BACK, SHOULDERS, OR ARMS. Other signs of possible cervical spine problems can include IMBALANCE, DEXTERITY ISSUES, AND NUMBNESS/TINGLING OF THE HANDS AND FINGERS.

Lumbar Spine- The lower part of the spine is the lumber area. Injury/overwork of the muscles of the low back are a common contributor to solo back pain. Back pain as well as pain and/or numbness in the hip, buttock, and leg can also occur when one or more nerves in the spinal column become impinged, or pinched. This is commonly caused by a disc or bone spur pushing into the canal that houses the spinal cord and the nerve roots. Spinal stenosis is also common as the spine ages. This results in decreased walking ability and the need to lean forward on shopping carts. Often back pain can be treated nonsurgically but in some cases, surgery is necessary.