We can develop a number of spinal issues as we age including spinal stenosis and degenerative disc disease. However, in our younger years, if we maintain a healthy lifestyle and receive chiropractic care to enhance our nervous system, we can help prevent spinal issues later on in life.
Could you start by explaining what degenerative disc disease is and how it affects the vertebrae and discs in the spine?
Dr. Scott Gardner: Degenerative disc disease is when the disc between the bone starts to wear away, bringing the bones closer together. This leads to pain. So, the way the body tries to protect itself is it sends calcium to the bones, which can ultimately lead to fusion of the joint.
What is spinal stenosis and how does it affect the body?
Dr. Scott Gardner: Spinal stenosis is when the openings where the nerves exit the spine become narrowed, creating pressure on the nerves, which can cause pain and or numbness.
Is arthritis considered a spine issue? And why is it worse with age?
Dr. Scott Gardner: Arthritis can occur in any joint in the body. We’ve all known people who’ve had hip replacements or knee replacements. The same thing happens to the spine if it’s not cared for on a regular basis. The difference is you can’t replace your spine. The aging process can slow the healing process in general. It’s much better to be proactive to prevent a problem than to be in a crisis situation.
What are some other spinal issues that older people develop?
Dr. Scott Gardner: Some other spinal issues that older people can develop are what we call kyphosis. That’s where they get a rounded look in their upper back from the side.
Another would be what we call forward head posture, and this can occur at any age and especially with the use of technology, but we do see it in the older population as well. And that’s where, when you look at somebody from the side, their head juts forward in relation to the shoulders.
Osteoporosis would be one that we have to be concerned of where the bone density starts to decrease over time. And there are definite things that people can do to minimize that.
And lastly, something we call sacroiliac joint dysfunction. That’s when the joint where the pelvis meets the spine on either side becomes overstretched and can cause pain.
What can people do in their younger years to help prevent spinal issues when they are older?
Dr. Scott Gardner: There are five key components to being healthy and preventing spinal issues. Number one is exercise on a regular basis, at least three times per week. Make good choices for the food you eat, especially avoiding processed foods. Get good quality sleep. Have a positive attitude. And the last one is have that healthy nervous system. And that’s what chiropractic helps with directly, which leads to better overall health and can greatly decrease spinal issues later on in life.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Scott Gardner visit www.gardnerfamilychiro.com or call 973-614-9256 to schedule an appointment.