Our bodies go through many changes as we age, one of which is the natural wear and tear of our bones and muscles. Sometimes, this natural wear on the body can cause discomfort, most commonly in the neck and back. This discomfort is called spondylosis, and it refers to the age-related wear and tear of the spine.

According to the Mayo Clinic, spondylosis is a common condition affecting nearly 85 percent of adults aged 65 and older. There are different names for spondylosis, depending on where the wear and tear occurs:

  • Thoracic spondylosis- affecting the middle of the spine
  • Lumbar spondylosis- affecting the lower back
  • Cervical spondylosis- affecting the neck

Many people with spondylosis don’t have symptoms, but it can cause pain or discomfort in the neck or back. You may also experience muscle spaces, headaches, or weakness in the hands and legs.

Bone and cartilage make up the backbone and neck. As you age, the bone and cartilage naturally wear down and cause dehydrated disks, herniated disks, bone spurs, and stiff ligaments. While most of the population develops spondylosis, your chance of developing serve spondylosis increases if you smoke, have had a back or neck injury, or if you worked a job that puts a lot of stress on your neck or back.

Preventing and Managing Spondylosis

It’s hard to completely prevent spondylosis as your body naturally wears down with age, but there are ways to lessen its severity and manage pain.

  • Staying physically active with low-impact exercises- Obesity is a risk factor contributing to spondylosis, so it’s crucial to maintain a healthy weight with proper nutrition and exercise. If you’re feeling pain or discomfort in your neck or lower back, try to stick to low-intensity workouts such as walking or swimming. You can also work on ways to build strength and flexibility in the muscles around the spine.
  • Work on improving your posture- If you’re feeling tense in your neck or back, improving your posture can reduce some discomfort. If you spend a lot of time sitting, take note of how your position. Are you curled over your computer, forming a “c” shape? Is your chin tucked toward your collar bone? If so, take a deep breath, bring your shoulders up and back, and position your computer, so you’re looking straight ahead and not down.
  • Limit smoking and excessive alcohol use- Smoking and drinking put excessive wear on the body, making you more susceptible to developing various health conditions, including spondylosis. Smoking and drinking can be addictive behaviors, so if you’re struggling to quit, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
  • Take proper precautions to avoid injuries- When you’ve had a neck or back injury, it increases your chances of developing severe spondylosis. If you work in an environment that requires a lot of physical labor, be sure to follow safety precautions to prevent neck and back injuries. Also, be sure to protect your body when working out or when lifting or carrying heavy objects.

When to See a Doctor

Most people with spondylosis experience mild symptoms that can be managed with nonsurgical treatment. However, spondylosis can pitch nerves causing tingling or numbness in your legs, feet, or arms. In extreme cases, it can also cause a loss of control over the bladder or bowel.

If you’re experiencing pain or stiffness in the neck, numbness in your extremities, or a loss of bowel or bladder control, the team at Mocek Spine Clinic may be able to help. We offer advanced spine care solutions through patient-centered care. Our purpose is to provide compassionate care designed to allow you to live your life in the least amount of pain possible. To learn more, you can make an appointment at our clinic or give us a call at 501.224.4001.