Aging can take a toll on your spine which is a central part of our human body. As one age, the bone mass will deplete based on your daily requirement of calcium and phosphorus. This can cause many spine related issues that will lead to crippling consequences. Some of the commonly found spine related disorders due to aging is discussed here.
Decrease in bone mass causes osteoporosis. It is most commonly seen in women during the post menopausal period. The most common symptom is back pain along with other bone diseases and tumour. Imaging evaluation like MRI, X-Rays, density tests and biopsy can diagnose the condition. Osteoporosis when not detected can lead to spinal fractures. The fracture can happen with minimal trauma or absolutely no trauma. A simple fall can lead to spinal fracture in case of osteoporosis.
Degeneration of disc and joints is osteoarthritis which is a normal part of aging. This condition may not cause any symptoms but a few develop back and leg pain. This condition leads to narrowing of the discs and arthritic change in the facets. This causes narrowing of space where nerves are located. Anti inflammatory medications, braces, bed rest can manage the symptoms. The patient needs to do regular exercises to strengthen the spine and back muscle. Surgical treatment may be required to treat progressive and severe degenerative changes.
Ruptured lumbar disc can occur at any age and is most commonly seen in patients of age 20 to 50. The condition is associated with nerve root compression and arthritis in older people. Low back pain without any trauma that subsequently leads to nerve related leg pain is the symptom of this condition. Also called as herniated disc or ruptured disc occurs due to tear and degeneration of the disc. This condition will also cause weakness in leg, loss of bowel and bladder function. As a treatment plan, doctors recommend restriction of activities, short periods of bedrest, non-steroidal medications, epidural, and physical therapy.
Severe conditions of osteoarthritis might lead to spinal stenosis. The spinal canal is the space between the spinal cord and the nerve roots. Facet arthritis can narrow this space causing stenosis. In this condition, the ligament between the 2 vertebrae can shorten and become thicker. The ligament, facet joint and the narrowed space will add pressure on the nerves in the spinal canal. Leg pain while walking and standing is one of the symptoms.
Arthritic condition also causes cervical degeneration of disc. It is a condition where there is stiffness and pain in the disk. The arthritic changes in the joint and degeneration of disc paves way to this condition. If the neck pain is associated with weakness, numbness in the arm , hand and shoulder and that builds up, indicates pressure on one or more roots or spinal cord. In severe cases, you will find imbalance while walking, use of hands and weakness in hands and legs. Initial treatment will be use of color immobilization, physical therapy and medications.
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