Degenerative spine disorders involve the degeneration or deterioration of your spine's ligaments, discs, and joints. These changes are often seen in the neck (cervical spine) and the lower back (lumbar spine). The degenerative disorders commonly occur due to aging, which causes immense pain, numbness, or weakness in your arms or legs. Obesity (being overweight), injury, family history, lack of exercise, osteoporosis, and smoking are risk factors that increase your probability of developing degenerative spine disorders. Medications and physical therapy are the first lines of treatment to manage pain; however, surgery would be recommended if these fail to provide relief.
Degenerative spine disorders are medical conditions that involve the gradual loss of normal structure and function of the spine over a period of time.
There are many conditions related to degenerative spine disorders, namely:
There are three stages of spinal degeneration, namely:
Your spine comprises individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up one on top of another, forming a vertebral column. It is divided into four segments, - the cervical spine (neck), thoracic spine (mid-back), lumbar spine (low back), and sacral spine (lower end of your spine). The intervertebral discs are structures that connect the vertebrae and act as cushions and shock absorbers.
The degenerative disorders of the spine are a consequence of aging and are most commonly seen in the third decade of life. Some common causes include:
The primary symptom of degenerative spine disorders is neck or back pain, which can be sharp and stabbing, dull or aching. The severity of pain depends on the area of the spine affected, which may radiate or migrate to other parts of the body. This usually occurs because the nerves that branch from the spine travel throughout your body.
Other symptoms of degenerative spinal disorders include:
Degenerative spinal disorders present with varying symptoms, with neck and back pain being the classical sign. Consult a neurologist (a doctor specializing in the diseases of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves) or an orthopedic surgeon (a doctor specializing in the diseases of bone and joints) for further evaluation.
Your doctor will recommend a few medical tests to confirm the diagnosis, which will help determine a treatment plan for your situation.
Degenerative spinal disorders are usually treated according to the severity of the condition. They can be non-surgical or surgical methods that help manage pain and prevent further degeneration of the spine's structures.
Your surgeon may recommend any one of the following spinal decompression surgery depending on the type of degenerative spinal disorder:
Degenerative spinal disorders occur mostly due to age-related wear and tear of the structures of your spine, but there are a few preventive measures that can help delay the onset of the condition.
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Degenerative spine disorders are not serious, life-threatening conditions. However, if left untreated can lead to the following:
Exercise is the most important aspect of treating spinal degeneration since it helps strengthen the muscles that attach to the joints and improves the range of motion. For most people, physical therapy and exercise provide a positive outcome.
Surgery for spine degeneration is the most effective treatment to relieve severe pain if physical therapy and steroid injections do not yield the desired results. Recovery after degeneration surgery may take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year.
The spinal degeneration pain can last from a few days to a couple of weeks. The intensity of the pain is according to the stage of degeneration, which can be mild and dull to sharp and shooting pain. Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help reduce pain; however, it is advisable to seek medical assistance from a neurologist.
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