Of all the systems in the human body, undoubtedly the spinal column is one of the most complex. Within this complex structure is an intricate arrangement of vertebrae, discs, nerves, muscles, and ligaments. It’s that complexity that gives the spine its many functions. Of course, it’s also what makes the spine one of the most vulnerable structures in the body. And, even though spine conditions can occur to anyone at any time, especially due to injury, older folks are far more susceptible to degenerative spine conditions, which are medical conditions that develop over time. As we age, our bodies naturally have taken more of a toll as the years have worn on, making each and every one of us more susceptible to suffering conditions of the spine related to the years of stress and burden we’ve endured throughout life. Following is more information from spine specialists in Morristown and throughout the country regarding the most common of these degenerative spine conditions, including osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, and degenerative disc disease.
Chronic back pain is a common problem reported by about 50 percent of adults living in community care facilities, according to one study. Chronic low back pain (CLBP) is a disabling and challenging pain condition affecting older adults, who sometimes have to seek out professionals or the top spine specialist to find answers for their problems.
There are three primary reasons back pain tends to get worse with aging:
- Decreased muscle strength and mass associated with aging (sarcopenia).This could be due to a decrease in number of muscle fibers, the size of the individual fibers or both.
- Fast twitch fiber atrophy is also associated with aging. This results in slower muscle contraction but this can be reversed with training.
- Decreased muscle attenuation is associated with aging muscle.
Here are ten important questions about common back pain that are asked often and answers to each.
The first question that most people ask about common back pains is what exactly is causing the pain. Strained and stretched muscles is one of the most common causes of back pain. Past injuries that may have damaged the tissue, muscle, or bones of the back is another culprit. A herniated or slipped disc can cause pain. Osteoporosis, obesity, long-term poor posture, and pregnancy are some other things that can cause back pain.
The spinal cord is surrounded and protected by the spinal column which is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. It also consists of the sacrum and the coccyx or tail bone. Between the vertebra there are discs which are designed to absorb shock so the spinal cord will not have to. The spine’s flexibility and ability to move and bend are due to the proper position of these discs. Nerves that reach all the other sections of the body branch out from the spinal cord by passing through the openings provided by the vertebrae.
Where is the cervical spine?
The part of the spine which runs through the area of the neck is called the cervical spine. In this piece of the spine there are seven vertebrae as well as eight pairs of spinal nerves. There are two very common problems that most people who have trouble with the cervical spine experience: stenosis and herniation. When a spine surgeon in New Jersey schedules a cervical spine surgery, the type of procedure will largely depend on what is causing the spine’s problem.
When the spaces in the spine start to narrow pressure is applied to the spinal cord and nerves in the spinal canal. This condition is referred to as spinal stenosis. In most instances, the lower back or neck region are the areas affected by the narrowing of the spine. Symptoms can range from very mild to severe complications. Many individuals do not experience any noticeable symptoms but others may have pain, numbness, muscle weakness, or problems with bowel or bladder function problems. Spinal stenosis is commonly attributed to aging or regular wear and tear that occur over time.
A lumbar laminectomy is a surgical procedure that is also known as an open decompression. The procedure is designed to relieve the pressure that is on the spinal nerve or spinal cord by opening or widening the spinal canal. During the procedure, the lamina which is a small section of the bone on the spine is removed so that there is more room for the nerves. An open decompression, or lumbar laminectomy is typically suggested by a physician for those patients who suffer from back pain caused by neural impingement. The surgical procedure relieves the pressure by enlarging the spinal canal.
One of the most common patient complaints is back pain and most of us will experience it at one time or another. The good thing is that about half of those who experience the discomfort of back pain will find relief in about 2 weeks; and nearly all will be relieved of the pain within 3 months time no matter what type of treatment options are pursued. Most of the time back pain is due to muscular strain which is resolved in time since muscles receive plenty of blood flow. A solid supply of blood will bring the needed proteins and nutrients to help healing occur. Back pain can be a minor irritation, or it can be very severe; for many it can be debilitating. For individuals under the age of 45, back pain is the leading cause of disability. It is important to see a physician if back pain is intense, limits your mobility, or cannot be controlled with over the counter medications.