Degenerative Spine Disorders

The spine is one of the most important parts of our body as it makes our whole body be able to do different types of activities. Just like with our other body parts, the spine is also susceptible to medical conditions and disorders.

Degenerative spine disorders are disorders or conditions that occur due to degeneration of the spine. These disorders affect the normal functions of the spine as it loses its structure. Degeneration of the spine means that the changes happening in the spine are due to wear and tear because of age. Degenerative spine disorders are not due to infections or accidents.

In this article, we will discuss what the different degenerative spine disorders are, what the symptoms of these disorders are, how to diagnose them, and the different treatment options available. But before that, let’s talk about the spine first.

Degenerative spine disorders

What is the Spine?

The spine is one of the main parts of the skeletal system. It’s composed of 33 individual bones, known as the vertebrae, that are stacked on top of each other forming the spinal column. The spine is composed of 4 sections:

  • - Cervical spine (neck)
  • - Thoracic spine (upper and mid-back),
  • - Lumbar spine (lower back)
  • - Sacral spine (pelvic)

The vertebrae is connected by intervertebral discs. These discs serve as shock absorbers and cushions. The spine also consists of the spinal canal which houses the spinal cord. The spinal cord is where the spinal nerves, as well as other tissues, which connects to the brain and the whole body, are located.

Degenerative spine disorders can affect all of the spine. Here are some of the structures of the spine that can get affected by degeneration:

  • - Bones
  • - Spinal Discs
  • - Ligaments
  • - Cartilage

 

What are the Functions of the Spine?

The spine has a lot of functions that enable us to live our lives. Here are some of the most important functions of the spine:

  1. - Supporting the body
  2. - Enabling movement
  3. - Protecting the nerves
  4. - Providing blood supply
  5. - Protecting the body’s major organs

Common Degenerative Spine Disorders

There are many types of degenerative spine disorders. Here are some of the most common of them:

1. Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the spinal discs is common especially among the elderly. Spinal discs are susceptible to wear and tear as time goes by making it brittle and cause problems in the spine. In some cases, those who have degenerative disc disease don’t always experience its symptoms.

2. Arthritis

Arthritis is the inflammation of the joint and one of the most common type of arthritis, called osteoarthritis, happens when the cartilage located in the joints wear down. Arthritis can cause pain and stiffness in the body.

3. Osteophytes (Bone Spurs)

Bone spurs are excess bones that grow due to conditions such as osteoarthritis. These extra bones may cause pain when they compress or pinch the spinal nerve roots or the spinal cord.

4. Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal canal. This often occurs due to degeneration of the spinal bones or the spinal discs. Spinal stenosis can cause compression in the nerves and the spinal cord resulting in pain or conditions like myelopathy.

5. Radiculopathy

Degenerative Spine Disorders can cause compression on the nerve roots resulting in radiculopathy. Radiculopathy is a condition where the ability of the nerve roots to send signal to the brain and the body. When this happens, a patient may feel weakness, pain, or numbness in the arms or the legs.

6. Nerve Compression

Degeneration of the spine can cause the spinal cord or the nerve roots to be pinched or compressed due to osteophytes, ligaments, as well as herniated discs.

Degenerative Spine Disorders: Symptoms

Degenerative Spine Disorders can have varying symptoms depending on the condition itself. With some people, there are no symptoms at all. The most common types of symptom associated with degenerative spine disorders is back pain and neck pain. However, there are other symptoms that can occur depending on the location of the condition.

Surgical treatment is not necessary in most degenerative spine conditions. A neurosurgeon will determine a patient’s need for surgical care depending on the symptoms they feel. Here are some of the symptoms you and your doctor should watch out for:

  • - Back pain
  • - Neck pain
  • - Bowel or bladder problems
  • - Weakness
  • - Numbness
  • - Radiating pain
  • - Pain accompanied by fever
  • - Unexplained weight loss
  • - Chronic back and neck pain
  • - Difficulty breathing

 

Degenerative Spine Disorders: Diagnostic Procedures

Doctors will recommend a patient with degenerative spine disorder to undergo diagnostic procedures to determine the exact cause of the disorder. Evaluating the symptoms can help your doctor further understand the condition and come up with the appropriate treatment.

Here are some of the diagnostic tests your doctor may request:

  • 1. X-ray
  • 2. CT Scan
  • 3. MRI
  • 4. Myelography
  • 5. Electromyography (EMG)
  • 6. Discogram

 

Degenerative Spine Disorders: Treatment and Care

Treatment for patients who have degenerative spine disorders may vary from one another. There are surgical procedures for degenerative spine disorders, however, before they are considered, doctors will opt for non-surgical treatments first.

Here are some of the non-surgical treatments for degenerative spine disorders:

1. Medications
a) Anti-Inflammatory Medication
b) Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs
c) Pain Medication
d) Anti-depressants
e)  Epidural Injections
f) Steroidal Injections
g) Anti-convulsants
2. Weight Control
3. Bracing
4. Physical Therapy

Surgical treatments are only considered when non-surgical treatments don’t show any progress and when the pain is so severe. In these cases, surgical procedures may help relieve pain and prevent further damage to the spine. Most times, surgery can effectively improve the quality of life of a patient with degenerative spine disease.

Here are some of the surgical procedures conducted for patients with degenerative spine disease:

1. Laminoplasty
2. Laminectomy
3. Discectomy
4. Anterior Cervical Discectomy
5. Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
6. Foraminotomy
7. Spinal Fusion

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Questions & Answers
Q:
What is the best way to treat permanent back and neck pain and stiffness?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Use a telephone headset

Never hold a phone between your shoulder and your ear. Use a headset or other hands-free system to talk on the phone and avoid abusing your neck and spine.

Neck Pain Tips: Exercise your neck muscles

One of the best neck pain tips is using the chin tuck. You can do this often throughout the day. In addition to helping strengthen the muscles that hold the head in alignment over the shoulders, it also helps strengthen the scalene and sub-occipital muscles.

Read more tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
What is the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder Pain?
A:

One of the best treatment for neck pain and shoulder pain is exercises:

Neck Pain Exercises: Neck Extension

  1. To begin this neck pain exercise, sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the palm of your hand on the back of your neck, at the base of your head
  4. Apply slight forward pressure with your hand, while resisting the forward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

Neck pain exercises: Side bend

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place your left hand, palm down, on the left side of your head (around your ear)
  4. Slightly push your head to the right side with your hand, while resisting the sideways motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat 5-10 times
  7. Repeat the neck pain exercises with the other side.

Neck pain exercises: Neck flexion

  1. Sit up straight in a chair with your feet flat on the floor.
  2. Looking straight ahead, tuck your chin slightly (starting position)
  3. Place the tips of your fingers on your forehead
  4. Slightly push your head backward with your fingers, while resisting the backward motion of your neck and head
  5. Hold for a count of 5 and return to the starting position and relax.
  6. Repeat the neck pain exercises 5-10 times

More exercises here: Neck Pain Exercises

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Temed Holdings
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Q:
How do I reduce the shoulder and neck pain?
A:

Here are some tips:

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep with a cervical pillow

Orthopedic or cervical pillows are made with special contours to support the space beneath the neck and head. They are also more concave for the head and provide more support to the neck.

Neck Pain Tips: Sleep on your back

The best position to lie to sleep is on your back. If you sleep on your stomach or on your side, make sure your pillow is not too thick. It should raise your head no more than 4 to 6 inches. This will keep your neck and head from turning to either side.

Neck Pain Tips: Position your computer screen at eye level

While you are working at a computer, sit comfortably in your chair with your computer in front of you. Close your eyes and then open them. When you open your eyes, you should see the middle of the computer screen. If your gaze is not in the middle of the screen, adjust the height of the screen using items like books.

To keep your head from gradually drifting forward, take frequent breaks to stretch. Getting up to walk around at least once every half-hour is one of the best neck pain tips.

Neck Pain Tips: Carry weight evenly

Many people make the mistake of carrying a heavy briefcase or their purse on their shoulder or on one side of their body. Doing this causes strain in the muscles and leads to pain.

Remove non-essentials from your briefcase or purse. Consider using a backpack to evenly distribute the weight across your shoulders. If you choose to carry a purse or backpack, keep your shoulders level while carrying it.

Neck Pain Tips: Maintain a proper posture

The most common posture contributing to neck pain is the “head-and-shoulders-forward” posture. In this position, the neck slopes forward, putting the head in front of the shoulders.

In this position, the head pulls the upper back forward also in a slumped position. This places a strain on the entire spinal column.

More tips here: Neck Pain Tips: Sleeping, Posture, Exercising, Hydration & Prevention

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Temed Holdings
4 answers