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3 Ways Aging Affects the Spine

Aging has a significant impact on our bodies. Here are some ways that aging affects the spine.

Past Experiences

The most obvious way that age (or time) impacts our bodies relates to experiences we’ve been through. Were you in a car accident and suffered neck injuries? Does your job involve a lot of lifting? Do you have a sports injury which affected your spine? These types of experiences leave a lasting impact on our bodies in the form of scar tissue, joint misalignment, soft tissue scars, etc.aging and the spine

Disc Degradation

Between each bone of the spine are sacks filled with a gel-like substance. These are called intervertebral discs, or discs for short. These sacks act like shock absorbers, cushioning our spine as we move. As we age, our discs dehydrate. This process is called disc degradation and is a normal part of aging. Unfortunately, this process reduces the discs’ ability to cushion our spinal joints. In some cases, the disc height is reduced such that adjacent vertebrae come into contact with each other as they move. This can be painful and/or lead to other complications such as bone spurs. Ensuring adequate water intake can help slow the natural disc degradation process.

Bone Density

Our bones are constantly growing. After we’re done growing our bones no longer grow in length, but internally, they are constantly producing new bone material. The production of new bone mass utilizes both calcium and vitamin D. Without adequate levels of each of these, bones can become brittle, and weak, a condition known as osteoporosis. This, in turn, can lead to spinal fractures, compression of the spine, and other potentially painful conditions. Some individuals benefit from calcium and/or vitamin D supplements as they age to help prevent osteoporosis. Smoking also increases the risk of osteoporosis so quitting is recommended.


*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery