Degenerative Spine Condition - Symptoms & Causes

What is a degenerative spine condition?

A degenerative spine condition involves the gradual wear and tear to the discs, joints and bones of the spine, which typically occurs in senior patients. These changes to the spine may eventually place pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, resulting in a variety of symptoms.

Types of conditions

  • Bony spurring (osteophytes)
  • Decreased disc height
  • Loss of joint cartilage
  • Thickening of bone

What are the symptoms of a degenerative spine condition?

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

  • General lower back stiffness
  • Loss of spinal movement
  • Low back pain

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

  • Pain
  • Pins and needles
  • Weakness or numbness in the lower back, buttocks, groin, legs or feet

Symptoms may be worse during activities that repetitively or continuously straighten or extend the spine or place weight on the spine. These include lifting, prolonged standing or walking. Symptoms tend to ease during activities that bend the spine or take weight off it, such as sitting or lying down.

What causes a degenerative spine condition?

Degenerative spine conditions are more common in people with:

  • A history of lower back pain or injury to the spine
  • Lifestyles involving large amounts of lifting, bending, twisting or sitting

Degenerative spine condition can lead to osteoarthritis in the back. This means that the discs that provide cushioning between the vertebrae (small bones in your spine) have deteriorated, causing stiffness and pain.

While resting may seem to relieve the pain, the lack of mobility may cause the pain to worsen, decrease muscle tone and reduce flexibility. Subsequently this may increase the risk for blood clots in the legs and even lead to depression.

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