Spinal Degeneration - Arthritis - Spondylosis - Stenosis
Spinal degeneration goes by several different names. Arthritis, degenerative arthritis, spondylosis, discogenic spondylosis and degenerative disc disease are different names for the same condition. So this condition is how your spine (and other joints too) slowly ages. Spinal degeneration will gradually happen to everyone to one degree or another. Therefore, no one gets to be 100 years old and not have spinal degeneration or arthritis.
So let’s talk about the stages of spinal degeneration.
Stages of Spinal Degeneration
- Normal. A normal vertebrae segment has a thick disc and no calcium build up around the facet joints or disc area.
- Phase One: After cleaning the basement and lifting all day, you notice some back pain or neck pain. You have microscopically torn or stretched the ligaments that surround or “wrap” the vertebrae. So you can think of ligaments as like masking tape or duct tape that wrap the vertebrae, or any joint for that matter. Your muscles are farther out. You move with your muscles however your ligaments keep you from moving too far. You will start to have diminished movement in this segment. It will tighten the small muscles surrounding the joint when there is an injury. If there is less movement, there is less irritation. This lack of movement is called a fixation or restriction. Eventually, this leads to phase two.
- Phase Two: The restriction or fixation leads to a loss of nutrients to the disc. The disc does not have an artery that goes to it. It only gets its nutrition from movement. Less movement means less nutrients and a gradual weakening of the disc. Your movement will allow the disc to soak up nutrients from the surrounding area. The disc will start to crack or bulge. A bulge, in other words a herniated disc, can put pressure on the nerve and cause sciatica. As a result of this progression of spinal degeneration, phase three begins.
- Phase Three: Phase three is characterized by the deposition of calcium into the ligaments where they attach to the bone. You use calcium to strengthen the ligaments. In other words calcium is like cement. Spurs, also called sclerosis, appear surrounding the joint. The spur can put pressure on the nerve and cause sciatica.
What You Can Do
But that doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do about the gradual aging the you will go through. Here are things you can do to slow down the aging process and in addition, spinal degeneration.