Age affects the body in a number of ways. While you may expect a few more aches and pains as you grow older, you may be surprised at the effect that passing time has on your spinal health. We all age, but not all of us develop head, neck, or back pain as we do. Sometimes, general wear and tear results in degeneration of the vertebrae in this area, the joints that facilitate movement, or the discs that lie between the bones of the spinal column.
The cervical spine, made up of 7 vertebra from the bases of the skull to just above the shoulder blades, is anatomically complex. It also has a wide range of motion. These two factors make the neck susceptible to injury and breakdown over time.
Signs that degeneration may be occurring in the cervical spine include:
- Chronic neck pain.
- Pain that extends from the neck down the back near the shoulder blades.
- Symptoms may spread to the arms, where weakness, numbness, or pain develops.
- Severe nerve impingement could affect hand dexterity.
Can this be Avoided?
If you’re already experiencing the symptoms of spinal degeneration, your wisest course of action is to visit your orthopedic specialist for accurate diagnostic testing. In order to treat neck pain appropriately, it is necessary to first know what you are dealing with.
Degenerative disc disease is largely associated with age. However, experts do offer tips for protecting the various complex parts of the spine from breakdown. Some steps you could take to promote spinal wellness include:
- Avoid using tobacco. We typically think that smoking primarily affects the lungs. However, most of the body responds adversely to the chronic exposure to nicotine and other toxins in cigarettes. Under such conditions, the discs in the spine are unable to absorb nutrients, making them stiff and susceptible to injury.
- A healthy diet supports appropriate weight, and an healthy weight is kinder to your back. Excess weight places stress on the spine and the muscles around it.
- Low impact exercise is ideal for spinal health. Some top choices include yoga, swimming, and walking.