Degenerative changes happen mostly with age and have no specific reason. The condition causes the spine to change shape and lose its typical structure or function.
Repetitive strains, sprains, and overuse of the back are what typically leads to a gradual change or degeneration of the spine, mostly that of the spinal discs.
Discs are positioned within the vertebrae of your backbone, absorbing shock and helping your back stay flexible for comfortable bending and twisting. As a person gets old, the discs wear down and begin to break. If your back is hurting due to a broken disc in your spine, you may have degenerative disc disease (DDD).
Other than degenerative disk disease, spinal bones can also be affected by aging and degenerative diseases. Osteoarthritis of the spine, as well as degeneration of the facet joints are two such examples.
The lumbar spine (lower back), as well as the cervical spine (upper back and neck) tend to be affected most often by such conditions, and tend to lead to back and neck pain as a result.
After the age of 40, mostly everyone experiences some degenerative change.
Degenerative spine conditions mostly get better on their own over time.
As previously stated, degeneration in the spine is process that occurs due to aging.
When it comes to individual structures of the back, such as the intervertebral discs, they can become damaged and weak due to loss of water. They are built of a soft internal surface and a firm exterior surface. There are two types of spine disc breakage:
- Drying out – where the disc loses a large quantity of its water content – the attribute that gives discs the ability to absorb shocks in the first place.
- Cracking – that leads to a crack in the outer layer of the disc, allowing the inner contents to spill out.
When born, a person’s discs are made up of water. Over time, the discs begin to lose water and get thinner. They become less cushiony and padded between the vertebrae and so cannot bear shocks as before. This eventually leads to spine problems and back pain.
Daily actions and trivial injuries across the years contribute to tiny tears in the outer wall of the discs. The outer wall is in close proximity to nerves, and if damaged, can cause immense pain.
That is because if the core of these disks breaks down, it may cause the content of the discs to slip out through the cracks. This substance can affect nearby nerves. This state of a disc is likewise recognized as a disc herniation.
In some cases, the disc can slip into the spinal canal and press against the spinal cord, causing severe symptoms that warrant immediate medical attention.
Pain is the most common symptom in people with DDD who do experience symptoms. The pain mostly depends on the affected area in the back. Most often, the person feels a sharp pain throughout the back and neck area.
The most common pained areas are the lower back, upper thighs, and buttocks. The pain can be made worse by movements such as sitting, bending or twisting.
The pain may be better when lying down or walking.
In some cases, numbness in the arm and legs due to a nerve affected by the slipped disc in the spine can also occur. Leg muscles may also feel weak in this case.
Treatment & Prevention:
Because damaged discs and degenerative diseases of the spine are not visible with the naked eye, it is recommended to obtain a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional before proceeding with any treatments.
Disc degeneration, as well as degeneration of spinal bones cannot be reversed, but there are a few options to relieve the pain that results, without the need for constant pain medication or any major intervention.
That being said, there are some pain management and treatment options that you can employ at home to relieve the symptoms caused by degenerative spinal changes.
Backrack Spinal Decompression Therapy
Excessive weight can exacerbate the stress that is placed on the spine. Being overweight can build pressure on your spine, put strain on it and cause pain, as the weight itself presses down on spinal structures.
As such, maintaining a healthy weight, or even losing excess pounds helps in reducing stress on the spine, and prevent spinal problems.
Heat and Cold Therapy
If muscle stiffness, pain, or inflammation occurs, you can apply hot or cold packs on the affected region for 15 to 20 minutes a day.
Always remember to wrap them in a soft piece of fabric, such as a towel, and avoid direct skin contact.