A certain level of spine degeneration is an unfortunate – and largely unavoidable – product of the regular aging process. As we grow older, the makeup of our spinal anatomy gradually deteriorates, eventually leading to back and neck stiffness, less flexibility and mobility, and more aches and pains. And at the center of this degeneration are two integral pieces of the spinal puzzle: the facet joints and intervertebral discs.
Facet joints operate similarly to a hinge. Each vertebra has a symmetrical set facing upward and downward, and these facets interlock to form joints. Facet joints are encapsulated with a thick lubricating liquid and are coated in cartilage to help the bones to articulate against one another. The result is a spine that is stable enough to support much of the body’s weight, while allowing flexion, extension, and the pivoting ability required from the back and neck. Meanwhile, the intervertebral discs are soft, spongy pads which cushion the vertebrae and act as the body’s shock absorbers. These pads bear the brunt of the stress put on the body, and further allow flexibility.
When functioning correctly, these structures work in congress with one another and are often taken for granted. And yet, the facet joints and intervertebral discs are also particularly prone to spine deterioration as a result of trauma, normal aging, or disease. Discs can become thinned, herniated, ruptured, bulged, protruded, prolapsed, or otherwise damaged, leading to potential pain and neurological symptoms. Likewise, facet joints can become worn down and arthritic, causing stiffness and other symptoms.
To better understand the causes, symptoms, and treatments of spine degeneration, LSI has assembled some helpful articles, including:
- Degenerative disc in the spine
- Degenerative spine disorders
- Degenerative arthritis of the spine
- Degenerative spine changes
- Degenerative disc disease of the spine
If you are suffering from a degenerative spine condition, you owe it to yourself to contact LSI and learn more about the revolutionary way that we treat back and neck pain. Using state-of-the-art, computer-assisted lasers and cameras, our award-winning team of spinal surgeons can alleviate pain from problematic discs or joints without the risks and long recovery of traditional open back surgery. Contact us today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan, and for more information on the treatments available for a degenerative spine.