Degenerative disorders are sometimes due to the process of normal aging and/or wear and tear. Just like mechanical devices, human bodies are subject to wear and tear from use.
However, unlike machinery, the human body has the ability to heal or attempt to repair a problem. At birth, the structural integrity of a person's spine, heart, lungs or any other organ system is at its peak for development through the years. During mid-life, early microscopic changes begin to appear that indicate the spine is aging. The spine does not deteriorate just because it ages. Wear and tear also play important roles. Ailments such as arthritis, spinal stenosis, or osteoporosis do not develop overnight. Degenerative diseases may take many years to develop. These disorders may be associated with past injuries, abuse, body structure, or congenital problems.
Spinal osteoarthritis, or spondylosis, is a degenerative disorder that may cause loss of normal spinal structure and function. Although aging is the primary cause, the location and rate of degeneration is individual. The degenerative process may impact the cervical, thoracic, and/or lumbar regions of the spine affecting the discs and spinal joints.
Osteoporosis commonly affects the thoracic and thoracolumbar regions of the spine and may cause debilitating pain. This disorder is caused by a loss of bone mineral density resulting in fragile bones, which may fracture. Osteoporosis may cause vertebral compression fractures, loss of height, stooped posture, even a humped back. The patient can control some of the risks for osteoporosis. These include poor diet, smoking, excessive intake of alcohol, and inactivity.