Degenerative spine conditions can occur for several reasons. The cause most frequently associated with the deterioration of the spine is the natural aging process. For example, the discs that cushion the vertebrae during movement tend to dry out as the body ages, making them more brittle and more prone to injury.
While aging is an uncontrollable factor in the development of a degenerative spine, there are other potential causes that you can take steps to prevent. Learning more about these contributors can help you make the lifestyle changes necessary to improve the health of your spine and slow down degeneration of spinal anatomy.
Carrying excess weight can negatively affect the spine
The spine twists and bends as you stand, sit, walk and complete other daily movements, all while supporting the weight of the upper body. These motions are more demanding on the spine if it has the additional burden of excess body weight. For this reason, people who are overweight or obese have a higher risk for developing degenerative spine conditions. Maintaining a healthy weight and building strength in the core muscles that support the spine can take some of the strain off of the spinal column, helping to reduce the rate of deterioration of the spinal discs and joints.
Sports and other activities can also cause degenerative spine damage
It’s commonly understood that being involved in a sport, especially one that involves repetitive impact to the body, can lead to injury. These types of sports can be particularly stressful on the spine, weakening the vertebrae, joints and discs over time. That puts people who play football and other high-impact sports at increased risks of developing degenerative spinal conditions.
Also, anyone who exerts repetitive strain on their spine — such as from practicing a golf or baseball swing — stands a higher risk of wearing down their spinal cartilage. This material lines the joints of the body, including the spinal facet joints, to reduce friction between the bones. When the cartilage is worn away it can result in osteoarthritis and is associated with symptoms including pain and stiffness.
Treatment for degenerative spine
Upon diagnosis of a degenerative spine condition, treatment will usually first consist of a course of conservative methods like rest, medication, physical therapy and epidural steroid injections in addition to making lifestyle changes to address factors like the ones above. Surgery may become a serious option if symptoms persist despite fully exploring and exhausting conservative treatment options. If you are ever recommended for surgery to treat a degenerative spine condition, contact USA Spine Care as you consider your surgical options.
Our dedicated team of Spine Care Consultants can tell you more about the advantages of our minimally invasive spine surgery, including a streamlined outpatient experience with less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.
We can also help you receive a no-cost MRI review* to help you determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.