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What are the causes of a degenerative spine in the neck area?

Oftentimes, degenerative changes take place in the cervical spine (neck) as a result of the natural aging process. After years of wear and tear, the spinal joints and discs can gradually break down. The facet joints can lose their protective cartilage coating, and the discs can dry out and become brittle. The cervical spine is particularly susceptible to the effects of degeneration, given that the neck must support the full weight of the head through a wide range of motion.

Other factors that can lead to spinal degeneration

In addition to the natural aging process, there are several other factors that can accelerate the degenerative process in the spine, especially in the neck region. In general, any posture, movement, activity or characteristic that compounds the stress exerted on the spinal column can lead to or contribute to its deterioration. For instance:

  • Carrying excess body weight — even just a few pounds — can often result in the development of a degenerative spine in the neck due to the additional burden placed on the spinal joints and discs. In fact, obesity is a leading cause of degenerative disc disease.
  • Over time, the cumulative effects of poor posture — such as hunching over a computer keyboard — can cause the spine to become misaligned, which can shift a disproportionate amount of its weight load onto certain areas that are not designed to handle it.
  • Trauma to the neck — resulting from a fall, car accident, sporting mishap or bout of heavy lifting can intensify the effects of age-related degeneration.

Positive lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and practicing good posture, can help reduce the risk of spinal degeneration, but it is impossible to prevent the condition altogether or reverse damage that has already occurred. If symptoms of a degenerative spine develop in the neck, it’s important to consult with a physician to learn about appropriate treatment options.

Neck surgery for a degenerative spine

If you’d like to learn about your surgical options for treating degeneration in the cervical spine, contact USA Spine Care to request a no-cost MRI review.* Our caring team can help you determine if you are a candidate for our minimally invasive outpatient surgery and, if so, recommend an appropriate procedure for you.

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