For those who don’t already know, spondylosis is a broad term that refers to the age-related degeneration of the bones and ligaments in the spine. It can occur in the lumbar spine (lower back), cervical spine (neck), and thoracic spine (upper and mid back). It’s more common among people older than 40 but anyone can get it.
What Causes It?
Ageing is its most common cause. Considering that you put your body through a lot of strain and stress over the years, it should come as no surprise when various changes occur to the structures of your spine. Even before you experience any symptoms such as stiffness and pain, your joints and other parts are already wearing out.
The rate at which spondylosis occurs is partly related to injury history as well as genetic predisposition. Injuries can make your intervertebral discs herniated. Plus, osteoarthritis is more likely to occur in injured joints. Genetics is another risk factor to consider. If many people in your family have the condition, there are higher chances of you getting it as well.
Can You Prevent It?
While you can’t stop your body from ageing, you can do much in improving and maintaining the health of your spinal column. Here are some preventative steps you can take against spinal arthritis:
- Perform clinical Pilates, a low-impact exercise that is highly recommended for people with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and for strengthening the core. It not only helps manage symptoms but also enhance spinal mobility, improve breathing, and reduce pain.
- Maintain a normal body weight or body mass index (BMI); lose pounds if necessary
- Eat a diet low in fat but rich in minerals, proteins, vegetables, whole grains, and fruits
- Lift weights while paying attention to your back
- Quit smoking as it can speed up the ageing process
- Avoid standing for long periods of time
- Take breaks every 30 minutes while driving or working at a desk so your head won’t be in the same position for prolonged periods
- Perform appropriate exercises for your spine as advised by a physiotherapist; including yoga, walking, and swimming
- Develop correct posture while standing or sitting
- Work out on a regular basis to keep joints fully functional and mobile
- Get enough rest, preferably 8 hours every night
- Minimise extreme movements such as too much flexing or extending of the lower back or neck
- Steer clear of high impact activities such as running or jogging when suffering from back or neck pain
- Lessen movements that rotate your spine; using a hard bed with a thin pillow is advised
- Use the right techniques and equipment when playing sports
- Cut down your alcohol intake as it can lead to dehydration that will affect spinal discs
How Do You Treat It?
If you’ve been unable to prevent spondylosis, take heart as it is possible to treat it. Treatment will depend on the severity of your symptoms though. The goal is to prevent permanent injury to the spine, enable patients to maintain usual activities, and relieve pain.
As of this time, available treatments for spinal arthritis fall under different categories. These are minimally invasive procedures, adjunctive therapies, physical therapy, exercise, self-care, and medications. To be more specific, they include:
- Physical Therapy – This is a combination of therapeutic exercise and passive treatments. It should be done with the help of a licensed physiotherapist like one from Activate Physiotherapy.
- Lifestyle Modifications – The methods advised in preventing spondylosis should be maintained in treatment as they can help spine health at any age.
- Acupuncture – Needles the size of a human hair are inserted into specific points of the body and may be warmed, electrically stimulated, or twirled to enhance effectiveness.
- Braces – Though long-term use is discouraged, temporary bracing for a week or up to four months is said to help relieve symptoms
- Muscle Relaxants – These types of medications are used to alleviate pain and muscle spasms
- Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs – Otherwise known as NSAIDs, these aid in relieving inflammation that can contribute to the pain
- Spinal Injections – Facet joint injections and epidural steroid injections are some examples of these. They are a combination of steroid medication and a local anaesthetic to reduce inflammation.
- Bed Rest – In more severe cases, patients are required bed rest for no more than 3 days
- Chiropractic – Spinal manipulation, lifestyle modifications, massage, and ultrasound are some of the typical treatments you can expect from a chiropractor.
- Narcotics – Opioids, as they are otherwise known, might be prescribed for a short period to relieve patients of any acute pain
Ageing might be inevitable but spondylosis can be prevented or at least hindered from occurring earlier. Just be sure to take good care of your body, especially your spine. You can find more information about maintaining and improving your wellbeing here at Health Inquire. Check out our latest articles on our blog and expand your knowledge about your body.