Our bodies naturally change as we grow older. Some of these changes are experienced as a result of day-to-day living while others are brought on from continued lifestyle choices such as smoking, lack of exercise and carrying excess weight. Regardless of what causes these changes, they can sometimes lead to painful and even debilitating health conditions. The neck, back and spine are certainly not immune to ailments as a result of the aging process.
How Age Affects the Spine – A Few Examples
Some areas of the neck, back and spine that are susceptible to age-related changes include:
- Spinal discs – As we age, our spinal discs (which provide cushioning between each of our vertebrae) experience a great deal of change. The tough cartilage on the outside of the discs becomes less elastic and more fragile. This can lead to bulging or herniated discs and a number of other painful conditions.
- Vertebrae – These bone structures surround the spinal cord and nerve roots, providing protection and support. Like most of our bones, the vertebrae are susceptible to developing bone spurs, or protrusions of the natural bone structure. Bone spurs develop in response to continued stress and pressure and may lead to significant discomfort.
- Facet joints – Our vertebrae are connected by facet joints, which help facilitate the movements and flexibility of the spine. Since these joints are almost always in motion, they experience a great deal of wear and tear as we age. As a result, many people develop osteoarthritis in the facet joints.
Symptoms and Treatment
The age-related changes that occur in the neck, back, and spine can lead to pain, numbness, tingling and a wide array of additional symptoms that are associated with spinal conditions. If you have been suffering with back or neck pain for months and conservative treatments have not provided you with relief, contact Laser Spine Institute for more information on our safe, effective outpatient procedures.