13 Dec Is Spinal Degeneration Reversible?
“Dr. Mickelson, is that degeneration you found on my Digital Structural Radiograph reversible?” THAT is the million dollar question and one that we at Specific Chiropractic get asked more during our exam more than any other. It is also one of the most complicated ones to answer. This is due to the multitude of factors that can contribute to not only the decay of your spine, but also the amount of regeneration we can expect. Factors such as previous trauma, age and lifestyle choices can all have a tremendous impact on what we can expect to see. So how do we determine what amount of spinal degeneration is present?
Patient with Anterior Head Syndrome and a reversed neck curve–NOT GOOD!
Why you NEED imaging
At Specific Chiropractic, we take a very exacting set of x-ray images called Digital Structural Radiographs to get a window into the condition of your spine. In general, how your spine looks on Digital Structural Radiographs is the best it will look for your life. Those Radiographs are a representation of a certain stage of degeneration at the exact point that it was taken. Any bone spurs (osteophytes), Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) or spinal arthritis that is visually present on the image will not disappear no matter what treatment we do at Specific Chiropractic. The good news is that you are not your Radiograph! Your ability to function has little relationship with how bad those images may look. However, those images also give us some great clues as to where your Secondary Conditions (symptoms) may be coming from and areas that we want to focus on to help prevent further degeneration. (An MRI is even better but it is not necessary unless there are certain conditions present). The Radiographs are one of many unique tools that we at Specific Chiropractic use to determine if you are a candidate for Structural Correction care. Now that you know the amount of degeneration that is present, what can you do about it?
What Can I Do?
The factors that influence spinal degeneration range from not controllable at all to completely under your control. A factor like age is not something we can counter. Starting around 50 years of age, everyone will likely start to show some signs of spinal degeneration that are part of the natural aging process as the spinal diskc lose some hydration and become thinner. Trauma is something that we can hopefully minimize with safety precautions. Unfortunately, things like car accidents, sports injuries and falls can almost be unavoidable and contribute to Structural Shifts in our spines and early degeneration. Lifestyle factors are very important in preventing spinal degeneration and are easily modified in most cases. Choices such as consuming too many sugars (carbohydrates), smoking, lack of exercise and poor posture all can lead to an increased risk of early spinal degeneration. All of the previous factors can be a great reason to seek out Structural Correction care to help prevent early spinal degeneration and restore function to damaged areas.
The best way to prevent early spinal degeneration and compromised nervous system function is to consistently make a series of good decisions for your overall health. Here are our top recommendations at Specific Chiropractic.
- Cut out as many carbohydrates as possible from your diet. Increased, and uncontrolled, blood sugar wreaks havoc throughout your body, especially in your joints. The increased blood sugar speeds up the joint degeneration due to an increased inflammatory response that is promoted by the consumption of sugar.
- Quit smoking. On top of the other massive health benefits quitting smoking provides, increased spinal health is another one. Smoking constricts the tiny capillaries that supply the vertebrae and spinal discs with the nutrition to heal and stay healthy. Every cigarette you burn up induces this change in physiology and it is no different than starving yourself from the necessary nutrients to keep your body functioning properly.
- Drink a lot of water. You hear this all the time but Americans are chronically dehydrated. Whether it’s from their fourth cup of coffee or the Monster energy drink they just downed, our penchant for caffeine leaves us low on water. Water is critical for many functions throughout our bodies and the spine is no exception. A chronic lack of water leaves our spinal disks short of hydration and lacking in cushioning. This lack of disk height eventually leads to the formation of bone spurs to help stabilize the area.
- Exercise your body daily. The spinal disks rely on movement to get their nutrition. They function much the way a sponge does in that they need compression and release to move nutrition in and waste products out. Just like how a sponge sucks up water and then you squeeze it out. It also increases blood flow to the tissues of the body and helps get rid of inflammatory waste products.
- Make sure your work space and home are ergonomically set up. Continued poor posture and ergonomics will result in structural changes to your spine. The body is constantly adapting to the stresses we put on it whether good (exercise) or bad (poor posture).
- See your Structural Correction chiropractor to get checked even if you don’t “feel” that there is an issue present. You may be surprised at what is revealed with our in-depth examination and might be able to stop an issue before it progresses into something more serious. The beauty of Structural Correction is its ability to help get your spine into the best shape possible. Through our unique approach to chiropractic care, we help maximize the function of your spine even when the picture may not be that pretty. Our goal is to help you attain the best possible foundation from which your body can function optimally.