A degenerative spine is a spine that has weakened over time. These changes cannot be definitively prevented, and they typically account for the aches and pains commonly associated with growing older.
As aging occurs, the spine’s discs, joints, and other components deteriorate, making them more prone to damage. If left untreated, a degenerative spine can cause a number of conditions that are common effects of the natural aging process, including bulging or herniated discs, bone spurs, spinal osteoarthritis, and more.
Degenerative Spine Symptoms
The symptoms of a degenerative spine can range from mild to severe. This depends on the specific condition a person is suffering from, as well as which region of the spine is affected. Apart from relatively minor aches and pains, the majority of degenerative spine symptoms occur when a spinal component, such as a disc, compresses a nerve root. The resulting symptoms, broadly known as symptoms of radiculopathy, may include:
- Localized pain at the site of compression
- Pain that radiates along the pathway of the affected nerve root
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness or tingling
Additionally, if degenerative spine results in the compression of the spinal cord, a different set of symptoms can occur. Some common symptoms of myelopathy are:
- Pain in areas of the body below the site of compression
- Weakness in areas of the body below the site of compression
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Difficulty walking
When a patient is diagnosed with a degenerative spine, the physician will likely recommend a combination of conservative treatment methods to control their symptoms and improve their quality of life. These methods greatly depend on the specific condition the patient’s degenerative spine has caused and may include pain and anti-inflammatory medication, epidural steroid injections, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes, such as weight loss, when necessary. Additionally, some patients choose to explore alternative methods of degenerative spine treatment on their own and have reported experiencing relief from methods such as acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, and massage therapy, among others.
While conservative and alternative therapies are often all that a patient needs to find sufficient relief from their degenerative spine symptoms, many others may find several months of nonsurgical treatment unsuccessful in managing their pain. When this occurs, the patient should educate themselves on the number of surgical treatments available to them. One great option is minimally invasive surgery with the dedicated surgeons at BEST Health System.
Our orthopedic and spine surgeons are among the leaders in their fields and perform thousands of minimally invasive procedures each year. Additionally, our surgeons perform the procedures through a less than 1-inch incision and utilize advanced muscle-sparing techniques. Our surgeries also offer patients a shorter recovery time compared to traditional open neck or back surgery, allowing them to get back to their lives as quickly and safely as possible. Contact BEST to learn more.