Have you ever heard someone with back pain say that have spinal degeneration? Or maybe they used other terms such as a bone spur or arthritis? The spine, like all parts of the body, can wear down and develop arthritis. This can occur in the joints where the vertebrae meet each other or can occur in the intervertebral discs that exist in between the vertebra. Millions of Americans have arthritis, or degeneration, in their spines. In fact, our Sioux Falls chiropractors commonly see patients with degeneration in their spine.
What is Degeneration?
The spine is composed of 24 bones called vertebra and the pelvis located below the vertebra. The vertebra have joints called facets where the bones meet each other and are also connected to each other by a piece of fibrocartilage called the intervertebral disc. These facet joints and the discs allow the spine to bend and be flexible. These facet joints and discs can develop wear and tear that can lead to arthritis. If the facet joints have degeneration, it is a version of arthritis called “degenerative joint disease.” When this occurs in the disc it is called “degenerative disc disease” (DDD) or “degeneration.” This degeneration can occur due to a specific trauma such as a fall, car accident or lifting injury. These also may occur gradually over time due to poor posture or simply the aging process.
Stages of Spinal Degeneration
When it comes to the disc the first stage of degeneration that occurs is a thinning of the disc. When this occurs it can cause abnormal spinal movement that may, over time, lead to bone spurs on the vertebra. In severe cases of degeneration, the discs become very thin and bone spurs may grow out and connect with the bone spurs of an adjacent vertebra. If the spurs connect to each other the vertebra have been fused together, and the spine will no longer be able to flex or extended at those spinal levels. During this degenerative process it is common for patients to have pain and stiffness in their back and/or neck. Degeneration of the spine is typically found by using medical imaging such as x-ray, MRI or CT scans.
Chiropractic and other tips to help Spinal Degeneration
Degeneration can’t be reversed but if you keep your spine moving well with exercise/stretching, chiropractic care, good posture and a healthy diet it may be possible to slow down the process or, in some cases, prevent it from getting started. With our patients we often find that spinal adjustments can help reduce pain from spinal degeneration and to help the vertebra moved better. If you have questions about your spine and degeneration, please contact our office. Our chiropractors would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss your specific case and offer you a personalized opinion.