Many people suffer from degenerative discs and arthritis in their back. This is not merely caused by aging. Disc degeneration is most frequently seen in areas that are “stressed”. This stress can either be from a severe trauma or from several smaller stresses over a period of time, and can affect people of any age or physical condition. A lot of the time my patients will tell me that they have arthritis because they are getting older. It is true that we will see signs of deterioration as we get older…however, most people who suffer with arthritis will report that they had an injury or repetitive motion type of situation in the areas that give them the most trouble.
Most Common Cases
Chiropractically, I deal mostly with people who have degeneration in their spinal column. Day-to-day activities, repetitive motions, or small accidents can cause your spinal bones to move out of their optimal alignment. This misalignment is called a subluxation and causes changes in the cells almost immediately. These changes can lead to cellular degeneration and problems years later. Studies have shown that when a bone is locked into an abnormal position and cannot move properly, degenerative changes begin in as little as two weeks and can become permanent in two months. Ever hear of the saying “Move it or Lose it”? This is very true of the joints of the body. What is also interesting is how when one part of the body is not moving or working properly it can set off a chain reaction and cause dysfunction and stress in another part. For example, Bob has an ankle that he sprained several times. His ankle has some arthritis in it from the damage. Because it is not working properly it causes additional stress to his knee. The knee stresses the hip and so on and so forth all the way up and down the body.
Phases of Spinal Degeneration
Spinal degeneration is similar to tooth decay. The process is usually ongoing for several years before pain or other symptoms are present. If you work on correcting and balancing and strengthening your body to make it work better, chances are you will have less degeneration, dysfunction, and pain as you age.
The easiest way to prevent spinal degeneration is to have regular spinal examinations and adjustments as necessary. Lifestyle changes can also protect your spine as you age and decrease the chances of degeneration. Healthy diet, exercise, and proper rest are easy ways to keep your body healthy.
In Phase 1 degeneration, usually one or more spinal bones become fixed in an abnormal position. This fixation decreases nerve impulses as well as circulation to the disc and surrounding tissues. This decrease of circulation to the disc can affect its nourishment and start to dehydrate it. This phase is usually not associated with pain and the response to chiropractic spinal care is usually very good. It is important to understand that in this phase although there may be no or minimal symptoms that this is serious and is the beginning of a bigger problem.
In Phase 2 permanent changes begin to take place in the form of disc decay and bone spurs or calcium deposits. By age 40, 80% of males and 76% of females exhibit moderate degenerative changes. Patients in this phase can expect to make significant improvement under chiropractic care.
In Phase 3 degeneration there are more extensive changes and increased nerve and muscle damage. Frequently this phase is associated with a loss of height. With spinal care some improvement may be possible although the results maybe limited due to the extensive tissue damage. While there is no way to regain the lost disc matter restoring normal motion to the joint can decrease the pain and can slow the degenerative process.
Preventing Spinal Degeneration
In this time of quick fixes and miracle cures it is tempting to just try to take a pill to fix this problem. Unfortunately, medications merely mask symptoms and never correct the cause. Medications may also cause serious side effects including: allergic reactions, delayed healing, increased blood pressure, stomach problems, and kidney and liver disease.
The restoration of normal motion to a previously fixated joint leads to restoration of normal joint function and physiology. This restoration of normal joint motion and nerve impulses is what is accomplished during a chiropractic adjustment. With regular care many patients have found that they feel better, their bodies work better, and they take much less medication. When this function is restored the degenerative process can be significantly delayed or stopped.
The best approach to spinal degeneration is to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Periodic spinal checkups will help you stay healthier longer. Tell the people you know the importance of having a spinal evaluation by chiropractor. They have nothing to lose except their pain, and good health to gain! Call for consultation or: