Dr. Louis Marotti, a neurosurgeon with Argires Marotti Neurosurgical Associates of Lancaster says that back and neck pain is so common that an estimated 80% of the population will experience pain significant enough to re-quire medical attention at some point in their life-time. “By far and away the most common problem we see is back and neck pain,” he says. And the most common cause of that back pain is spondylosis, a form of osteoarthritis affecting the spine. Spondylosis is a degenerative condition that can affect the discs that separate the vertebrae and the facet joints that connect the bones of the spine.
“These degenerative changes can cause back or neck pain symptoms,” Marotti says. Degenerative changes are a natural part of aging, so essentially everyone is at risk. “Some people get it a lot worse than others and a lot earlier in life than others,” says Marotti, who has treated patients in their teens with the beginnings of the degenerative process in their spines. There is often a hereditary factor as well. “Bad backs run in families,” he says.
While there are no medications or treatments that will slow the degenerative process, there are steps you can take to improve the overall health of your back and neck and re-duce the possibility of flare-ups. The key, Dr. Marotti says, is staying in the best physical condition possible by maintaining your ideal body weight and having a regular workout or training regimen. However, he advises against high-impact cardio exercises like jogging that can put added stress on your back. Instead, opt for walking on smooth, level ground, and use a stationary bike or elliptical. At the office, use optimal ergonomics - including proper equipment spacing, chair height and desk posture - to avoid stress on your neck and back during the course of the workday.
Finally, avoid activities known to put a strain on the back, such as repetitive bending, twisting and lifting, he says. “It just comes down to awareness,” Dr. Marotti says. To make an appointment with Dr. Marotti, or for more information visit their website at argiresmarotti.com or call (717) 358-0800.