Degenerative Spine Condition

What are Degenerative Spine Conditions?

Degenerative spine conditions involve gradual wear and tear on the discs, joints and bones of the spine that typically occurs in older people. These changes may eventually place pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in a variety of symptoms.

Degenerative spinal changes may include:

  • Bony spurring (osteophytes)
  • Loss of elasticity of intervertebral discs
  • Loss of joint cartilage
  • Thickening of ligaments that support the spine

Degenerative spine conditions are more common in people:

  • With a history of lower back pain or trauma to the spine
  • With lifestyles that involve lifting, bending, twisting or sitting-intensive activities

Minor degeneration may cause few or no symptoms. As the condition progresses, patients may experience:

  • Low back pain related to activity
  • Back stiffness

With more severe degeneration involving spinal cord or nerve compression, patient may experience:

  • Radiating leg pain or sciatica
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet

Symptoms may worsen during activities that repetitively or continuously straighten the spine or activities that place weight on the spine such as lifting, prolonged standing or walking. Symptoms tend to ease during activities take weight off the spine such as lying down.

The vast majority of people with degenerative spine disease experience low back pain symptoms that flare up periodically. Treatment for the condition, which involves back exercise and rehabilitation, aims to offer adequate pain control and maintain function in life and at work.

Physiotherapy treatment for patients with spinal degeneration helps relieve pain, improve flexibility and strength and ensure an optimal outcome. This may comprise of:

  • Pain medication
  • Activity modification, proper ergonomics and posture to prevent excess stress on the spine
  • Back brace or back taping
  • Back physiotherapy to help relieve pain relief and improve flexibility and strength
  • Hydrotherapy, traction, walking aids
  • Spinal injections to deliver medication directly to the painful area in the spine to decrease inflammation
  • Spinal fusion surgery to reduce pain by reducing abnormal motions in a degenerative spine

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