Degenerative spine prevention means making sure that your neck and back are always at their healthiest, just as you try to keep your heart and lungs healthy. All the components of your spine, from the vertebrae to the intervertebral discs to the connective tissues, need nutrients to function properly, which is why diet and exercise may be all you need to avoid the painful conditions that accompany a degenerative spine.
What Causes a Degenerative Spine?
As the name implies, a degenerative spine is one that has weakened and deteriorated over time. Naturally, aging is the primary cause, but other factors – obesity, overexertion, illness – can also contribute. Degeneration of the spine can occur in the facet joints or the intervertebral discs, both of which are largely dependent on cartilage to function normally, and the gradual loss of moisture and resiliency in the spinal cartilage has detrimental effects on the spine. Conditions such as facet disease, herniated discs, or bulging discs can contribute to neural compression and symptoms of pain, tingling, numbness, or weakness in the back, neck, and extremities.
Tips for Degenerative Spine Prevention
- To keep your spine as healthy as possible, take part in low-impact exercises like walking or swimming. Light weight training and gentle yoga can also help your spine stay strong and flexible. (Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise regimen, however.)
- Stay disciplined about your diet. Eating foods that are high in fiber and low in fat will reduce body mass, which means your spine has less weight to support. Foods like fish, nuts, and leafy greens are high in omega fatty acids and antioxidants, both of which contribute to the health of joints and intervertebral discs.
- Avoid smoking at all costs; the toxins and nicotine in cigarettes prevent your discs from absorbing vitamins and nutrients.
Treatments for a Degenerative Spine
Despite all of your best preventative efforts, you may still develop degeneration of the spine. In fact, the majority of the adult population will have varying levels of spine deterioration, but only a small portion of these individuals will experience painful neural compression from the condition. Always try managing your symptoms with conservative treatment before you consider surgery. This may include prescription or over-the-counter medication, massage, yoga, or behavior modification.
If chronic pain from facet disease or degenerative disc disease persists, despite conservative treatment, your primary care physician may suggest that you contact a specialist about your surgical options. If this is the case, Laser Spine Institute can offer help. Our orthopedic experts are at the forefront of minimally invasive, endoscopic technology. These gentle, outpatient procedures have helped tens of thousands of people rediscover lives without back pain. Contact us today for a free review of your MRI or CT scan.