Author: Patrick Foote

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Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Lase

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How Degenerative Spine Disease Develops By Patrick Foote

  in Aging | Published 2012-12-13 03:07:05 | 341 Reads | Unrated

Summary

Degenerative spine disease, or degenerative spine disorder, is an extremely broad term that refers to the wear and tear that affects the spine over time While everyone experiences a certain degree of anatomical deterioration as they get older – the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and joints of th e spine age just as the rest of the body ages – not everyone will experience this disorder, as it is a more severe form of spinal degeneration

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Degenerative spine disease, or degenerative spine disorder, is an extremely broad term that refers to the wear and tear that affects the spine over time. While everyone experiences a certain degree of anatomical deterioration as they get older – the vertebrae, intervertebral discs, and joints of the spine age just as the rest of the body ages – not everyone will experience this disorder, as it is a more severe form of spinal degeneration.



Individuals who are overweight, smokers, or who regularly perform heavy lifting and other strenuous activities are at an in
creased risk of spinal degeneration. It’s not uncommon, though, for the condition to remain asymptomatic and many people never even know they have it. The condition also manifests differently in every person. For instance, two subcategories of degenerative spine disease are degenerative disc disease and facet disease. It’s possible for someone to have severely deteriorated discs while still showing few signs of facet joint damage or degeneration.



Degenerative Disc Disease



This form of degenerative spine disease affects the intervertebral discs of the spine, which play multiple roles. Not only do they serve a ligamentous purpose by connecting adjacent vertebrae, but they also cushion the vertebrae, act as shock absorbers, and lend flexibility to the spine. Over time, the discs deteriorate in the following ways:



• Discs lose water content and become dehydrated

• They become less pressurized and resilient

• Collagen levels decrease, reducing their elasticity

• The height of the discs decreases



In and of themselves, these changes are not generally painful. However, symptoms can develop if a disc herniates or bulges. Herniation occurs when a tear develops in the layers of the disc’s outer wall, called the annulus fibrosus. The disc’s gelatinous center, the nucleus pulposus, can then seep out of the tear and cause an inflammatory response in the annular wall’s nerve fibers or compress a nearby spinal nerve root. A bulging disc involves a disc wall that is still intact, but the wall is so weakened that pressure from its nucleus pulposus, combined with stress from the adjacent vertebrae, causes it to become misshapen and extend past its normal boundary.



Facet Disease



Facet disease is a degenerative spine disease that affects the facet joints of the spine, which are the hinge-like structures where adjacent vertebrae meet and articulate. Over time, the cartilage that lines these joints starts to wear away. Joint stiffness, joint inflammation, and reduced range of motion may result, or bone spurs may form in areas where a lack of cartilage has forced bone to rub against bone. Bone spurs, also called osteophytes, may press on a nearby spinal nerve root or the spinal cord.



When a Degenerative Spine Disorder Becomes Symptomatic



You may have noticed that both degenerative spine disorders mentioned above can give rise to anatomical abnormalities that may press upon nearby structures of the nervous system, such as the spinal cord or its nerve roots. Depending on the location of the compressed nerve, symptoms of radiating pain, tingling, numbness, and muscle weakness may travel through the back, neck, and/or extremities. A compressed spinal nerve in the lumbar spine (lower back) can affect the buttocks, hips, legs, feet, and toes, while a compressed cervical (neck) nerve can cause symptoms in the neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers.



Treatments for Degenerative Spine Disorders



Most people who suffer from symptomatic degenerative spine disorders like degenerative disc disease or facet disease will likely be able to manage their discomfort with a combination of conservative (nonsurgical) treatments. Physical therapy, behavior modification, and hot/cold compresses are commonly prescribed therapies, though it is extremely important that you see your doctor for a proper diagnosis before attempting any treatments. In rare cases, nerve decompression surgery may become an option for patients who have not found relief from chronic symptoms after several months of conservative treatments.

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for several degenerative spine conditions.

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for several degenerative spine conditions. http://www.laserspineinstitute.com/back_problems/degenerative_spine/

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About the Author

Patrick Foote is the Director of eBusiness at Laser Spine Institute, the leader in endoscopic spine surgery. Laser Spine Institute specializes in safe and effective outpatient procedures for bulging discs and several other spinal conditions.