Monday, May 20, 2024

ADVERTISING: Advertorial — Effects of aging on your spine

As we age, it’s not uncommon to experience increased aches, pains and stiffness. Many of us assume this discomfort just goes with the territory and in fact, when it comes to the spine, decline in function and flexibility can be expected as the bones and intervertebral disks begin to deteriorate over time. Unfortunately there are multiple reasons for back pain. These can include the muscles pain, ligaments, nerves and the bones of the spine themselves to name a few.

Unfortunately, the normal aging process is responsible for the majority of changes in our spinal anatomy, some of which can lead to pain. However, degenerative change is common. In fact, a study was done on patients with no pain in their 20s and 30% were found to have some degenerative changes found by MRI. By the time people are in their 50s approximately 97% of the population will have some degenerative changes found on MRI. While the process of aging cannot be stopped, its effects can be minimized.

Our spines are very similar to a car. An automobile is a series of moving parts that allow the vehicle to move. The more miles you put on the car, the more likely the vehicle will have some of its parts wear out. Like the tires for example. Our spine or body for that matter is the same way. As we get older, the various moving parts of our anatomy degenerate. One of the first areas to degenerate is the discs. The disc serves two important functions: motion and shock absorption. As we get older, the disc will lose this ability and shrink in height. This leads to more stress being placed on the surrounding bones and joints. As a result of losing the “cushion between the vertebrae,” the vertebral bones can begin to rub against one another. This can potentially lead to back pain and stiffness.

Meanwhile, the spinal column can actually narrow over time in a condition known as spinal stenosis, which results in compression of the spinal cord and nerve roots. Then the change in stress distribution will cause arthritic changes to occur in the surrounding anatomy. This cascade of degenerative changes will manifest itself as increased symptoms. Common symptoms of spinal conditions in older adults may present themselves as early morning back pain, leg pain when standing and walking, loss of height and more.

But saying all that, back and neck pain that occurs due the natural aging process can typically get relief from non-surgical treatments, like chiropractic care, non-surgical spinal decompression, exercise, core strengthening and proper lifting techniques to name a few.

I hear a few times a week from older patients, “if I knew then what I know now, I would have been more careful with my back.” Taking the right steps now can help you avoid conditions and the associated symptoms in later years.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene. For more information, please contact us at 208-966-4425.