As the body and spine age, degenerative changes of arthritis and spinal stenosis can affect the spine. When this occurs in the cervical spine (neck) , it is known as cervical stenosis, and when it occurs in the lumbar spine (low back) , it is called lumbar stenosis. Aging typically has an impact on every aspect of daily life, and movement of the spine is no exception. The spine is involved in almost every kind of routine movement: twisting, standing, sitting, walking, and running included. Aging can lower mobility, endurance, strength, and balance, but certain exercises and lifestyle choices help to prolong (and even counteract) some effects of aging, particularly in the case of the spine. The network of muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the torso begins to lose mass as we grow older (as do all muscles in the body), and it becomes more difficult to build muscle mass due to our cells not reproducing as vigorously as they do while we are young. Water loss in tendons (which attach muscles to bones) also makes these tendons stiffer and less capable of managing load-bearing stress. A regimen of core strengthening exercises can prolong torso strength, as well as assist in managing the body’s weight distribution. Regular core strengthening will also help reduce wear on the spinal disks (shock-absorbing pads between our vertebrae) by reducing stress placed upon the spinal column during movement.
The lumbar spine anatomy and the cervical spine anatomy consist of vertebral segments, which are held together by ligaments, which cross over the disc spaces, and over the facet joints (which separate one vertebral level from the next). There is ligament in front of the vertebral body known as the anterior longitudinal ligament. The ligament behind the vertebral body is called the posterior longitudinal ligament. The ligaments around the facet joints are the capsular ligaments. The ligament between the spinous processes is the interspinous ligament, and the ligament between the transverse process is the inter transverse ligament. Of particular importance for the aging spine is the ligamentum flavum, which is a ligament which is found on the inside of the spinal canal, just under the lamina (which is the back roof of the spinal canal). As the spine ages, this ligament can become thickened, and compress upon the nerves of the spinal canal, a condition known as spinal stenosis (cervical stenosis, lumbar stenosis) . When this occurs, patients may experience pain in the neck or low back, or arms or legs. When the spinal stenosis occurs in the neck, it is cervical stenosis. When the spinal stenosis occurs in the low back, it is lumbar stenosis.
Arthritis also affects the aging spine. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. The spine has many joints, and these can become inflamed, resulting in pain and stiffness. There are two major typed of arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a result of normal aging or wear and tear upon the spine. Rheumatoid arthritis is a result of an autoimmune disorder. Generally, the goal of arthritis treatment is to improve quality and function of live. When the spine undergoes arthritis, bone spurs can grow inside of the spine and outside of the spine. The facet joints can become thickened and overgrown, and the arthritis can result in bone overgrowth and compression upon nerve roots. The nerve compression from arthritis can affect the spinal nerves in the central canal (where all of the nerves of the spine pass as they traverse the distance from the brain to the rest of the body) and the arthritis can affect the nerves as they leave the spinal canal through the neural foramen, which are openings in the side of the spinal canal located just next to the facet joints.
Our spinal disks, along with our spinal joints, help our spine articulate, but they also gradually wear down and undergo disc degeneration. They can become thinner, causing a loss in height, as well as a rupture (herniated disc )as a result of regular load-bearing stress, sudden impact trauma (such as a fall), or due to increased body mass. Proper hydration, healthy weight management, a varied and nutritious healthy diet, nutritional supplements, and regular rest will all help prolong the effects of aging on the spinal disks, in addition to maintaining bone density at near-optimal levels. High bone density means less incidence of osteoporosis (low bone density), and a much lower probability of bone density-related spinal fractures (osteoporotic compression fractures). Vertebral compression fractures can press upon the nerves of the spine. Smoking can also have an adverse effect on overall spine health.
Our heart muscle gradually loses efficiency, meaning that on a year-by-year average, we are less capable of pumping blood in a given amount of time. This means we get tired more quickly and our muscles take longer to recover from stress. For the spine, this means that the support network of bones, ligaments, and muscles around the spine receive less and less nutrition, especially during periods of load-bearing stress. Regular cardiovascular exercise, proper hydration, and a healthy diet as well as weight management will help maintain heart muscle as we age.
In summary, the aging process can take a severe toll upon the spine. Arthritis in the spine can develop, and along with this, the ligaments can become firm and thickened, resulting in spinal stenosis, lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. Proper physical activity, proper nutrition, core strengthening exercises, sciatica exercises, and stretching can help to slow down and even reverse the aging process, as it relates to the spine.
Spine experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX have expertise at taking care of patients with aging symptoms of the spine, in particular arthritis, and spinal stenosis including lumbar stenosis and cervical stenosis. In the majority of cases, patients may undergo a treatment course and improve without the need of an operation. When surgery is necessary, Neurosurgeons at the KBNI utilize the most advanced techniques in minimally invasive spine surgery when it is appropriate.
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, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center (TMC) and other Texas TX cities including Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio and Austin.
Patients suffering from a cervical stenosis or lumbar stenosis, or who have been told they may require a lumbar laminectomy or cervical laminectomy, can contact the Kraus Back and Neck Institute at
……. Or visit www.SpineHealth.com to schedule an appointment online
Keywords: lumbar stenosis, cervical stenosis, spinal stenosis, arthritis, Houston, Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Conroe, Humble, Kingwood, Port Arthur, Galveston, Memorial City, Texas Medical Center, TMC, Texas, TX, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin