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Spine and Disc Degeneration

Spine and Disc Degeneration

Presented by: Health First Chiropractic

Your spinal bones begin to deform: your discs swell, then shrink; your ligaments, tendons and muscles begin to harden and weaken; your entire spinal column loses its balance, flexibility, stability and strength. What is happening? Your spine is degenerating. In addition to spinal damage, your nerves, body chemistry and internal organs can also be affected. Spinal degeneration leads to overall inability to adapt to the pressures of life; you lose the spring to your step and the youth in your being; you lose height as your spinal structures shrink.

Loss of Height:

Most people believe they lose height when they get “old.” Does that mean that at age 65 you wake up and find yourself shorter? Of course not. The loss of height is silent, slow and gradual, and may begin in your 20s and 30s.

What Causes Spinal Degeneration?

Spinal degeneration is usually caused by years of long-standing vertebral subluxations in your spine. Veretbral subluxations result from spinal stress often causing the spinal vertebrae to shift from their proper places, or become misaligned and irritate the surrounding nerves, bones, discs, ligaments and other soft tissues causing them to age and deteriorate. This condition is called a vertebral subluxation complex that if often painless, very common and a “hidden epidemic.” Spinal degeneration is like tooth decay and years can go by before a person notices its effects or feels any pain. Your spine degenerates in stages or phases:

Phase 1 is often seen up to age 20. Your spine loses its normal balance and its normal curves. Your nerves may be affected and the vital life energy that flows over them is interfered with. Your joints, discs, nerves and posture are stressed and age more quickly. Surprisingly, there may be no pain other than occasional minor discomfort. Also present may be a slight lessening of energy and slight height loss. Response to spinal care is generally good.1

Degeneration Phase 2 is often seen age 20 to 40.2  Spinal decay, disc narrowing and bone spurs (deformations); postural changes are much worse. This condition is very common-by age 40, 80% of males and 76% of females exhibit moderate disc degeneration.3  Spinal canal narrowing or stenosis may occur. This phase is characterized by more common aches and pains, fatigue and a diminished ability to cope with stress. Height continues to decrease. With chiropractic care significant improvement is possible.

Degeneration Phase 3 is often seen age 40-65. At this time there are more postural imbalances, increased nerve damage, permanent spinal scar tissue and advanced bone deformation. Physical and/or mental weakness or disability begin. Loss of height and loss of energy continue. With chiropractic care much reversal is possible.4

Degeneration Phase 4 from age 65 onward indicates postural imbalance is severe and motion is limited. There is severe nerve damage and scar tissue and bones may begin to fuse. In this phase we find pain, various degrees of physical or mental disability with continued loss of energy and height. Chiropractic may still help in this phase, giving new life to old bones, offering symptomatic relief and some limited correction as well.5

The Chiropractic Approach:

Must you passively watch your spine degenerate? Chiropractic can reduce, halt and may even reverse spinal degeneration by improving spinal balance and posture and keeping your joints, nerves and discs healthy and strong throughout your lifetime.6 As one researcher writes: 'The restoration of motion to a previously fixated joint leads to a restoration of normal joint function and physiology.'7

Further, there is increasing evidence that some spinal degeneration may be reversible.8  Another researcher has noted: 'Correction of a vertebral subluxation can not only attenuate and arrest this degenerative process, but can actually allow the condition to reverse itself.'


The sooner chiropractic care begins, the better. The earlier the degeneration process is identified, the better chance for its arrest and reversal. Of course, the best approach to spinal degeneration is to prevent it from occurring in the first place! This means bringing your children in for periodic spinal checkups to keep them free of the vertebral subluxation complex. Of course, anytime someone experiences a fall, accident or other extreme stress they should have their spine checked by a Doctor of Chiropractic to make sure they are subluxation-free. Stress, including emotional stress, job stress, school stress, family stress and environmental stress takes its toll on us. For that reason you should have your spine checked periodically for vertebral subluxations that slowly and steadily drain your life of energy, strength and wholeness. See your chiropractor regularly to keep your spine free from subluxations and free from spinal degeneration.

Disclaimer: Information contained in The Wellness Express newsletter is for educational and general purposes only and is designed to assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Any information contained herein is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or other healthcare professional.

References and Sources: 1. Gottlieb, M. Neglected spinal cord, brain stem and musculo skeletal injuries stemming from birth trauma. JMPT. 1993. 16(8), pp. 537-543. 2.Gunn, C.C. 'Prespondiyosis' and some pain syndromes following denervation supersensitivity, Spine.1980, 5(2). 3. Miller. J.,Schmatz. B. & Schultz, A. Lumbar disc degeneration: Correlation with age, sex and spine level in 600 autopsy specimens. Spine, 1988, 13. p. 173  4. Sato, A. The reflex effects of spinal somatic nerve stimulation on visceral function. JMPT, 1992, 15(1), pp. 57-61. 5. Flesia, J. Renaissance-A psychoepistemological basis for the new renaissance intellecutal, Colorado Springs, CO: Renaissance International, 1982. 6.  Brantingham, J., Snyder, W.R. & Biedebach, D. Spinal manipulation may help reduce spinal degenerative joint disease and disability. Dynamic Chiropractic, April 22, 1994. 7. Lantz, C.A. The vertebral subluxation complex. International Review of Chiropractic, September/October 1989, p. 39. 8. Bland, J.H. The reversibility of osteoartritis. Am J Med, 1983, 75, pp. 16-26. 9. Ressel, O.J. Disc regeneration: Reversibility is possible in spinal osteoarthritis. ICA Review, 1989, 45(2), pp. 39-61. Writer: Tedd Koren D C


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