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Spinal Degeneration and Poor Balance

Myelopathy is an injury to the spinal cord due to severe compression that may result from trauma, congenital stenosis, degenerative disease, or disc herniation as defined by John Hopkins University. This type of injury can be caused anywhere along the spinal cord: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, or sacral. Although sacral myelopathy is not as common, it is possible. The reason being is that the spinal cord becomes a bundle of nerve fibers at L2 and as it continues to descend into the sacral spine, this becomes thinner a bundle. Any extrinsic force applies to the thecal sac or the membrane that wraps around the spinal cord all the way down to the end of the spine (coccyx) in the sacral spine presses against a less dense thecal sac. There are more reasons why but for the purpose of this article, we will skip the others.

The spinal cord is the connection between our brain and the rest of our body. Other components of the spine protect the spine. However, when these components such as the spinal disk, vertebral foramen, osteoporosis, etc start to wear out, our spine starts the process of degeneration. Any of these or a combination of them can cause myelopathy. In addition, intervertebral foramen stenosis, and vertebral facet hypertrophy can also add nerve impingement to the problem. These degenerative issues start affecting anything below the neck. One of those things is our balance. 3 of the major balance departments in our body are located in our brain, eyes, and ears. However, our body has millions of receptors (sensors) that help us feel our body in space, control our reflexes, feel the different textures, and many more senses that allow controlling our body. This combines with the weakness and lack of motor control and impaired soft tissue regulation (lymph nodes, ligaments, blood vessels) increase our instability; therefore, our balance.

This is why it is so important that we maintain a good healthy spine throughout our life. Keeping a healthy spine in the sense of knowing how to perform the exercises that strengthen its main stabilizers vs the big muscles groups that help us move our limbs, how to keep a good posture and keep it aligned properly, how to move, and in what positions you should do things in such as sleeping (never on your stomach), and what to stretch more vs what to strengthen more (in most cases) to prevent limitation of movement that results in spine injuries, is all


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