Overview of degenerative changes in the spine

Degenerative changes in the spine happen in different ways and the combination of these occurrences can lead to more serious and painful problems. Every person will experience some extent of deterioration as they age, with changes accelerating in a person’s 40s or 50s. Whether or not age-related changes have affected you yet, you might still be asking yourself exactly what degenerative changes in the spine are.

Patient education is a critical part of getting you the help you need if you are dealing with neck or back pain. Learning about the specific degenerative changes in the spine through the information in the following article can help you and your doctor develop a treatment plan to return you to the quality of life you’ve been missing.

Specific degenerative changes in the spine

Degenerative changes in the spine are typically unable to be prevented, as a result of the natural progression of aging. The elements that support the neck and back naturally wear down from continuous use, causing the spine to lose flexibility and stiffen.

The following are some examples of possible degenerative spinal conditions you may experience:

  • Degenerative disc disease (DDD). This condition is one of the most common degenerative changes in the spine. It is characterized by the breakdown of spinal disc cartilage. Eventually, a disc bulge or rupture can compress a nerve root. The thinning of discs can also cause vertebra to move closer together and pinch nerve tissue. Factors such as aging, general strain on the body and poor lifestyle choices can contribute to DDD.
  • Osteoarthritis. This is the most frequently diagnosed form of arthritis and is also known as degenerative joint disease. Spinal osteoarthritis usually occurs in the lumbar (lower) region but can also develop in the cervical (upper) and thoracic (middle) regions. As cartilage wears away on the facet joints of the spine, it can lead to pain, inflammation and bone spurs, which are bony growths.
  • Spinal stenosis. This is the narrowing of the spinal canal, which can be caused by a number of factors, including DDD and osteoarthritis. This narrowing can lead to pinched nerves and accompanying symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness. In the most severe cases, where the upper spinal cord is compressed, the whole body weakens and paralysis may develop.

How is your quality of life with degenerative changes in the spine?

If you’re experiencing neck and back pain, it may be due to degenerative changes in the spine. Consult your doctor for a diagnosis and recommendation of the many conservative treatments available, such as core-strengthening exercises, chiropractic manipulation, physical therapy, muscle relaxants and pain medications. If these treatments do not relieve your pain and other symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute today to learn more about our minimally invasive procedures that can help you find relief from neck and back pain.

Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures, offering an outpatient experience, less risk of complication and no lengthy recovery.^ We use muscle-sparing techniques with a less than 1-inch incision in order to allow patients to get back to their daily routines as soon as possible. We have had the pleasure of helping more than 75,000 patients find relief from their debilitating spinal conditions since 2005.

To determine if you may be a potential candidate for one of our procedures, reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost MRI review.*