Common Spine Issues for People Over 50 Omar Grant March 30, 2015 Human Body As we age, our body goes through several changes. Some of the parts that are most affected are our bones. When we are young, our body can easily create new bone marrow to help fix breaks. However, when we reach the age of 30, this ability starts to decline. The production of testosterone and estrogen hormones in men and women slowly declines while bones loss accelerates. This causes fragile bones due to low bone density. For this reason, people over 50 are at more risk of experiencing common spine issues. Osteoporosis People who have osteoporosis suffer from low bone density. The loss of bone density can advance without showing any signs until the person suffers from a fracture. Though this can occur in any bone in the body, it usually affects weight-bearing bones like the spine and the hip. The spine, most especially, is vulnerable and prone to fractures due to loss of bone density. People with this condition can take acetaminophen to relieve pain and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce swelling. For more natural pain management, some undergo acupuncture while others opt for herbs like boswellia, devil’s claw, white willow, and yucca. Disc degeneration Our spine is made up of vertebrae, the interlocking bones of the spine, and discs, which function as cushions. All through our youth to mid-adulthood, the flexion of our spine and torso lets water draw in nutrients to the disks and flush out toxins. This maintains the strength, flexibility, and health of the discs. In an aging spine, the discs become more fibrous and stiff, which affects how they process water, so that they become dry and lose their shock absorption abilities. This can lead to problems when the discs place pressure on the spine or the neighboring nerve roots. This leads to disc degeneration, which can cause pain at the back, radiating out to the legs, arms, and neck. This condition can still be reversed. restoring the neck and back to a healthy and functional state. This just requires an effective rebuilding program, which is designed to hydrate the drying disks. Osteoarthritis This is the most common type of arthritis, which usually affects the weight bearing joints. When this occurs in the spine, it affects the joints that let the spine bend and twist. When the facet joints get damaged, cartilage will become inflamed. In time, the cartilage can separate from the surfaces of the joints. When vertebrae start to rub against one another and the nerves and tissues around them become inflamed, movement becomes painful. Osteoarthritis may cause bony spur formation, which can narrow the spinal disk space and let the affected disc collapse. Those with osteoarthritis should avoid problematic foods like processed foods, products that cause allergy, and excessive amounts of fruit and sugar that can cause inflammation. Homeopathy is one of the most effective treatments that are available. Affected people are also suggested to make lifestyle changes like losing weight, doing exercises that do not put too much pressure on the joints, and stretching to maintain a range of motion. Spinal stenosis Spinal stenosis is the narrowing of the spinal area, which can cause pressure on the spinal cord, including the nerves that extend from compressed areas. This can result in problems such as pain, cramps, and numbness in neck, shoulders, arms, and legs. This may even cause problems with the bowel and bladder. Spinal stenosis symptoms can be treated with a decompression surgery, or alleviated with epidural injections of cortisone. Other treatments include anti-inflammatory medicines and multiple B complex vitamins. Sufferers of this condition are advised to remain active. Each person’s spine has unique ways of aging. So, while some individuals in their old age do not experience the unfavorable effects brought about by an aging spine, others can experience stiffness, discomfort, decreased motion range, reduced flexibility, difficulty in lifting heavy objects, and even spinal fracture. Fortunately, there are ways of alleviating the pain caused by these conditions.