As discs age they flatten and become slightly irregular. The bones come closer together and the disc is less able to cope with the forces it used to cope with when it was thicker and younger. It is more prone to injury and becoming inflamed. The bones themselves become irregular, with odd bits growing off around the edges. This is a natural degenerative process and may also be called osteoarthrosis. It may be speeded up by traumas such as rugby injuries or driving on bumpy surfaces. If this lead to tissue irritation and inflammation it may be called spondylitis or osteoarthritis (the ‘itis’ means inflammation).
The smaller facet joints at the back of the spinal column also undergo this degenerative change resulting in slightly distorted joints. This ageing of the bones and joints also affects the softer tissues – the muscles tend to become smaller and tire more quickly, and the ligaments tend to become thinner and not so strong making them more easily strained.
Without wanting to sound like a broken record exercise plays a big part in how your back stands up to an ageing body, the strong it is the better it will cope. If you are already in pain or if you took part in a sport like rugby and are worried about how your back is coping years later the best thing you can do is arrange to see a professional.
You don\’t always have to wait until there is pain to come in and see us! Sometimes preventative measures can be better than making an effort to sort out your back after it is already in pain.
At active-x because we have a range of different professionals we will be able to give you a good idea of whether your ageing back is in need of a few treatments with an osteopath, could benefit from regular sports massage or therapeutic treatment, or if you just need to strengthen it using exercise.