• Not Always What it Seems: The Aging Spine

      We feel our age in a myriad of ways. Aside from not knowing what the kids are listening to, we get aches and pains and wrinkles and crinkles and, well, you get the idea. The great thing about the time we live in is that although we’ve grown older, medical science has improved our ability to diagnose conditions and treat them.

      Take for instance the natural wear and tear that occurs to the spine. Back in the day, back pain was just another onus to bear in one’s old age. Now, degenerative issues can be easily addressed through a variety of non-operative treatments such as physical therapy and injections. Some spine conditions can develop as a result of aging that are more complex.

      Many older patients develop problems with their balance and coordination or changes in their bowel and bladder habits. On first glance, this may seem to have little relation to the spine at all. There may be minimal associated neck pain, however on closer examination these symptoms may be caused by a degenerative condition called cervical spinal stenosis. Cervical stenosis is typically caused by the natural age-related degeneration of the spine. Bone spurs and collapsed discs can press on the spinal cord and therefore interfere with many neurological functions.

      There is another condition that causes some concern in our older patients because it’s usually thought of as being a condition of children: scoliosis. As you can imagine, adults who develop scoliosis have problems with walking, standing in line, or even sitting in the same position over long periods of time. Scoliosis is often the result of degeneration of the spine leading to weakened spinal tissues that can no longer support the body. Scoliosis can be treated through a variety of methods, although for many older patients there’s little to no pain at all.

      The point here is that the spine is a unique and complex structure, and degenerative problems that affect the spine can pop up in unexpected places. If you’ve experienced any confusing problems that don’t seem connected to the rest of your body, then it’s worth coming in for a quick check up. Catching spinal problems early are often the easiest to fix with non-operative procedures, and taking care of these issues now can go a long way in keeping you fit for a long time to come.