As you age, the bones and cartilage that make up your backbone and neck gradually develop wear and tear. These changes can include:

  • Dehydrated disks. Disks act like cushions between the vertebrae of your spine. By the age of 40, most people's spinal disks begin drying out and shrinking, which allows more bone-on-bone contact between the vertebrae.
  • Herniated disks. Age also affects the exterior of your spinal disks. Cracks often appear, leading to bulging (herniated) disks — which sometimes can press on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • Bone spurs. Disk degeneration often results in the spine producing extra amounts of bone in a misguided effort to strengthen the spine. These bone spurs can sometimes pinch the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • Stiff ligaments. Ligaments are cords of tissue that connect bone to bone. Spinal ligaments can stiffen with age, making your neck less flexible.
April 15, 2015

You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.