Understanding Spinal Degeneration: Causes and Symptoms
The spine plays a vital role in providing our spinal cord with protective armor. The spinal cord acts as a main highway for sensory information to be passed between the brain and the rest of the body through the nervous system. However, over time, the spine can go through degenerative changes due to accumulation of stress and trauma. This would then lead to inflammation, pain and neurological symptoms.
There are several causes of spinal degeneration;
- Aging: As an individual ages, the spinal discs lose their water content and elasticity, which makes their shock absorbing capabilities less efficient, which leads to more pressure and stress being applied to the bones of the spinal column (vertebrae). This leads to eventual reduced mobility and function.
- Trauma: As we go through life, it is inevitable to sustain minor and major traumas.These traumas can accelerate the degradation process. Damages to the spinal discs, bones and ligaments surrounding the spinal column will surely reduce the support and lead to wear and tear.
- Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors could vary from every individual. Poor postural habits such as prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyle could also lead to degeneration as our joints require movement to maintain their health. These sedentary habits can then eventually lead to a major loss of disc height and turgidity.
Symptoms of Spinal Degeneration
There are various symptoms of spinal degeneration. The most common ones are;
- Chronic back pain :Persistent, dull back pain is a very common symptom of spinal degeneration. The pain may worsen with movement and may be more pronounced after prolonged periods of sitting and standing.
- Nerve Compression :As the degeneration progresses, it may very well lead to conditions such as spinal stenosis, in which the spinal canal narrows due to growth of bony osteophytes. This will then ultimately lead to compression of the nerves, which then result in symptoms such as numbness, pain, tingling and weakness in the arms and legs.
- Changes in Posture: Individuals with spinal degeneration may exhibit changes in posture, such as a forward-leaning stance. This is often the body’s way of compensating for pain or discomfort in the spine.
Spinal degeneration is a natural part of the aging process, but its impact can be mitigated with proactive measures. Understanding the causes, recognizing symptoms early on, and exploring a range of treatment options can help an individual manage spinal degeneration and maintain a good quality of life. It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals to develop a personalized treatment plan tailored to individual needs and circumstances.