How the Spine Develops as We Age
The human spinal column is made up of vertebrae, ligaments, muscles, facet joints (the joints that link our vertebrae) and spinal discs (the shock-absorbing pads between our vertebrae). Spinal nerves wind their way around vertebrae and provide sensation to much of the body. All of these components interact to allow for a pain-free normal range of motion during routine movement. Since the spinal column is involved in almost every kind of human motion (sitting, standing, running, bending, lifting, twisting, etc.), pain-free articulation of the spinal column is essential for a high quality of life.
Though the human body may be an incredible machine, its mechanical components do not escape wear and tear. The cartilage on the ends of our facet joints naturally degrades over time and the wear is exacerbated by repeated heavy lifting or lifting combined with torsional (twisting) motion. This places nearby spinal nerves at a higher risk for nerve compression, which causes extreme back pain and decreased mobility. Since spinal discs naturally degenerate as we get older, becoming harder, less pliable, thinner, and less capable of bearing shock, the spinal nerves have a higher risk of compression, given that as spinal discs shrink, the distance between vertebrae lessens accordingly. Typically this means a smaller range of motion for back pain patients as they grow older.
Aging patients also need to account for the possible effects of osteoporosis (low bone density) on the spine. Poor nutrition, smoking (nicotine, a chemical in cigarettes, is toxic to bone-generating cells), and a lack of physical activity can all decrease bone mass. This in turn increases the risk of osteoporosis-related fractures. Fractures are especially dangerous within the spinal column, as shards of collapsed vertebrae or spinal discs may pierce the spinal canal and lacerate spinal nerves, putting the patient at risk for serious long-term health complications. Also, the fractures may occur so slowly that many patients may not notice any sudden changes in their back pain levels.
Even with all of these potentially serious problems, however, there are still steps you can take at home to keep your spinal column healthy as you age. Proper weight management will help reduce stress on the facet joints and spinal discs. Healthy dieting and nutritional supplements will help keep bone density at optimal levels. Physical therapy (particularly a regimen full of core-strengthening exercises) and chiropractic treatment by a chiropractor will develop muscles in the torso and along the spinal column. Stronger core muscles lessens the load from compromised spinal discs and helps patients mediate their back pain levels.
Physician experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston, TX, have significant experience and expertise in working with patients who are recovering from minor or major spine surgery. They understand that the beginning of the healing process starts in the OR, but the remainder continues well after the surgery is finished.
The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX takes care of patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Texas Medical Center (TMC), Tomball and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin
If you have SUFFERED AN INJURY, you can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
……. Or visit www.SpineHealth.com to schedule an appointment online
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