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Chest x-ray showed degenerative changes in dorsal spine. What does this mean?

Sep 2012
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General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2008
Answered : 1416 Questions

My father-in-law underwent Chest X-ray (PA) examination and most of the results are normal except that it is mentioned as 'degenerative changes in dorsal spine'. What does this mean and what is the work-around?
Posted Thu, 27 Dec 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Das Arindam 1 hour later
Thank you for posting a question.

Firstly, degenerative changes means transformation of active cells to inactive and in some cases dead cells. It is basically an age related changes. It is normal finding in older age. But its presence in spine leads to decreased gap between two spines. It indicates early changes of osteoarthritis. It leads to pain along the pathways of the nerves.

In this conditions, the main treatment is exercise. For specific exercise, you can consult an orthopedic surgeon or a physiotherapist. Along with this, he should be investigated for presence of any vitamin D deficiency.

So, overall, you should consult with an orthopedic surgeon if he experience any symptoms like pain, stiffness of back, etc.

Hope this information suffices. Let me know, if you have any more question

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Chest x-ray showed degenerative changes in dorsal spine. What does this mean? 34 hours later
1) Would you consider even 55 yr as old age?
2) What is the reason behind having this? Could climbing steep stairs everyday, be one of the reasons behind?
3) What will happen if left unattended?
Answered by Dr. Das Arindam 1 hour later
Thank you for writing back.

1. Age of onset of this type of degenerative changes varies person to person. In some cases, it can start as early as 50 years of age. So, it can also be seen in 55 years.

2. No definite cause is found in many cases. It is idiopathic in most of the cases. So, the cause cannot be said definitely.

3. If left untreated, it may lead to back pain and lastly osteoarthritis. So, it is better to start treatment as early as possible.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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