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Spinal Disorders That Often Occur In Seniors

by | Jul 3, 2024 | Caregivers Support, Caregiving, Lifestyle & Wellness, Wellness

Spinal disorders are more commonly seen in the geriatric population. As part of ageing, the body typically goes through degenerative changes (wear and tear). Our spine is made up of small bones, called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another and creates the natural curves of your back.

Understanding your spine and how it works can help you better understand some of the problems that occur from ageing or injury. As one ages, so does the spine which supports the head, shoulders and upper body.

It is important for seniors and caregivers to have an understanding of these common spinal conditions so that one would be better equipped to tackle the situation at hand and provide optimal care

While there are a number of possible back conditions that you or your loved ones may encounter, we cover the common spinal conditions that seniors are more prone to. 

 

Common Spinal Problems In Seniors

Cervical Spondylosis

As one gets older, the neck is no longer as strong and thus the gradual weakening of the neck increases the likelihood of getting a slipped disk there. What holds the neck up are the ligaments that connect the vertebrae which can get stiff and tight. This is a cause of a stiff neck with limited mobility that we often see in seniors. If not treated, it may cause the neck to hurt or limit one’s mobility.

 

Slipped disc

A structure that acts as a cushion to the back is called a disc. It sits between each of the vertebrae and avoids friction against each vertebra. As one gets older, the discs start to dry out. Over time, if too much pressure is exerted on the back, the disc might break or slip and lead to a condition called the herniated disc. Some common symptoms include that of numbness and lethargy. To combat this, consult your physician for light exercises to do and your physician may even prescribe painkillers to deal with the pain

 

Osteoarthritis

If there are conditions that women are more prone to than men – it is Osteoarthritis, a condition that makes the back stiff and painful. The vertebrae have slippery tissues that allow us to flex our back. With age, the cartilage gets worn out and once the vertebrae start to rub against each other, it causes back pain.

Whilst this condition cannot be reversed, painkillers, therapy and prescribed exercises can help ease the management of this condition. 

 

Sciatica

Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, numbness, or tingling in the leg. It is caused by injury to or pressure on the sciatic nerve. Disc herniations, bone spurs, or other spinal problems can put pressure on the spine. Warm and cold compresses, stretching exercises and pain relief medications can help one to feel better. 

 

Spondylolisthesis

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a significant cause of back pain in the elderly when the vertebrae slides and gets misaligned with the surrounding ones. The physician would typically recommend physiotherapy and getting in rest, more serious cases would be referred to fusion and decompression surgery of the spine.

 

Conclusion

As one gets older, spinal conditions tend to be more unavoidable but this being said, it doesn’t mean we neglect our backs since they will degenerate anyway. There are many things we can do for our spine and amongst which is maintaining a healthy weight, good posture, healthy eating patterns, and regular exercise. 

About Growing Needs

About Growing Needs

Growing Needs grew out of our own encounters with caring for our aging parents and reflecting on the Growing Needs that we ourselves would face as we advance in years. We hope to build a community that will learn, share and contribute towards caring for the growing needs of our loved ones.

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