Degenerative Spinal Disease

Degenerative spinal disease refers to any condition that involves degenerative changes to the vertebral bones, intervertebral discs, facet joints, and soft tissues of the spine. The different degenerative spinal diseases may cause neck pain or back pain by affecting the nerve fibers in the spine that are sensitive to pain or when the nerve roots of the spine are compressed as a result of conditions such as bulging discs or herniated discs. in conditions such as spinal stenosis, the spinal canal itself may be affected, as the thickening of the vertebral arch supporting the spinal canal decreases in size. The degenerative effects of one structure of the spine may cause pain or degeneration of other structures, in spinal conditions such as Retrolisthesis, where the vertebral bodies slide backwards, out of their normal alignment. The affects of all of these degenerative conditions may include instability of the spine, reduced mobility, stiffness, sharp back pain, dull back pain, and weakness, burning, and numbness in the extremities. The condition degenerative disc disease is sometimes used interchangeably with degenerative spinal disease, there are a host of conditions under the Spinal umbrella that involve different causes of disease and structures that are affected. Let's take a look at the most common degenerative diseases that typically involve the aging process and wear and tear of the spine.



Anterolisthesis. The discs, ligaments, soft tissues, and muscles of the spine are responsible for holding the spine in its optimal position, to allow for movement, absorb the shock of gravity, and to protect the nerve roots of the spine and the spinal cord itself. Each vertebral bone mains an optimal position in the spine, relative to the one above and below it. Anterolisthesis occurs when one of these vertebra slips forward, and out of alignment.

Degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease is a degenerative spinal disease that specifically affects the discs of the spine. this condition occurs when either the height and volume of the disc diminishes, due to a loss of water or other materials in the inside of the disc (annulus pulposus), or the outer covering of the disc (annulus fibrosus) tears. When the annulus tears and the inner materials are pushed outwards, the condition is known as a herniated disc.

Degenerative disease of the facet joints. Facet arthropathy occurs when the smooth cartilage between the facets wear out. The patient may experience pain when the cartilage wears out to the point that the two facets rub together, causing inflammation.

Facet arthropathy. Facet arthropathy is a condition where the vertebrae connect to one another, as a result of arthritic changes to the facet joint.

Foraminal stenosis. Foraminal stenosis occurs when there is a narrowing of the size of the vertebral foramen (the inside of the arch of the vertebra, behind the vertebral body). This narrowing of the foramen squeezes may negatively affect the spinal canal that passes through it.

Osteophyte. Osteophytes are also known as bone spurs, but don't typically involve sharp pointy edges as the name implies. Bone spurs are bony outgrowths of the vertebral bones that form as the result of injury degenerative changes to the joints and discs. Osteophytes develop at the surfaces of the vertebral bones where an injury occurred, or at surfaces that were once protected by healthy discs or smooth cartilage. When the cartilage or discs break down, friction on the bones causes bone loss, and the replacement of bone loss with new bone material that fills in the spaces and develop into these osteophytes. Osteophytes may develop from an old calcified injury. Retrolisthesis. Retrolisthesis occurs when the vertebral body slips backwards, out of its normal alignment.