Reducing Age-related Spinal Disc Degeneration
The spinal discs are shock-absorbing pads located between our vertebrae. They are composed of a tough, flexible outer layer that surrounds a soft inner layer. As one might expect, spinal discs help cushion the stresses of everyday movement, helping the spinal column to articulate without pain and keeping the spinal nerves from being compressed by nearby vertebrae. Over time, our spinal discs naturally degenerate, becoming thinner, harder, and less capable of assisting the spine in movement. An older person’s spinal discs are also less likely to prevent compressed spinal nerves, due to the vertebrae being closer together in a patient whose discs have advanced degeneration.
That is not to say we are all doomed to low mobility as we age, however. Back pain related to spinal disc degeneration is serious, but often treatable at home. Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen can help reduce inflammation around compressed spinal nerves and allow back pain patients enough mobility to make adjustments to their lifestyle and course of treatment. Physicians typically start chronic back pain patients off with a regimen of physical therapy designed to develop muscles along the spinal column and throughout the torso. Core strengthening exercises shift the body’s weight distribution and assist the spinal discs in managing loads during everyday movement. For most back pain sufferers, physical therapy with incidental over-the-counter pain medication is enough to improve mobility and mediate pain levels. Depending on the severity of their back pain and the damage in the spinal column, other patients may require stronger prescription pain medication.
A preventive lifestyle that prioritizes regular exercise, healthy dieting, and proper weight management also goes a long way toward reducing age-related spinal disc degeneration. Obesity greatly increases the loads the spine is subjected to during the course of everyday movement and spinal discs and facet joints (the joints that link our vertebrae) bear the cost in the form of accelerated degeneration. Hydration and adequate sleep are essential to give the body time to repair itself from physical therapy sessions. Additionally, rest will allow tensed muscles to relax, promoting blood and oxygen to reach oxygen-starved muscles and aid in recovery.
For some patients, conservative treatments like physical therapy won’t be enough to restore mobility. There are many different spinal deformities (such as spina bifida, in which a portion of the spinal cord protrudes outside the spinal canal) that will not be cured or even mediated by at-home solutions. These patients generally require back surgery, which can be extremely costly and necessitate a long period of post-operative care and rehabilitation.
Physician experts at the Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston, TX, have significant experience in diagnosing and treating spinal disc degeneration. The Kraus Back and Neck Institute (KBNI) in Houston TX cares for patients in Houston and the surrounding areas, including Sugarland, Woodlands, Katy, Spring, Sealy, Baytown, Pearland, Beaumont, Galleria, Tomball, 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.
Keywords: back pain, spinal discs, disc degeneration, physical therapy, spinal nerves, Houston, Baytown, Conroe, Galleria, Beaumont, Galleria, Galveston, Humble, Katy, Kingwood, Memorial City, Woodlands, Sugarland