Arthritis can happen many different places in the body; among the most serious areas is the spine. This is called Degenerative Disc Disease or Osteoarthritis. The degeneration of the disc that lies between every two vertebrae in the spine occurs as a result of a ‘drying out’ over a period of time. There are a number of factors that may speed up this process:
- Lack of use
- Poor diet
- Excess of smoking
This process of degeneration brings the surfaces of the vertebrae closer together and eventually results in a gradual wearing of the bone. The body will usually begin to form bony growths on the end margins of the vertebrae in an attempt to strengthen the region which can then put pressure on the nerves themselves. These growths are often referred to as ‘spurs’ or osteophytes, and medically are evidence of what is commonly referred to as Arthritis.
Degeneration of the disc occurs over time in 3 phases :
Phase I: Dysfunctional: In the first phase of the degeneration process we see a tearing around the outer surfaces of the disc cartilage material. The normal height of the disc has now been compromised as it begins to shrink. The disc has lost some of its effectiveness in providing flexibility and cushioning to the spine.
Phase II: Unstable: In the second phase of degeneration, the joint experiences a progressive loss of strength. Further tearing and loss of disc height and cartilage degeneration occurs.
Phase III: Stabilization: Even further loss of disc height occurs, the surfaces of the vertebrae above and below the disc now start to show moderate to severe damage, the disc has become thin and fibrotic, and we now see the formation of arthritic osteophytes (bone spurs).
Over time pain and symptoms worsen in the absence of proper treatment.
The chiropractic care gently creates a negative pressure that can actually help the disc to receive nutrients and rehydrate and promote healing of degenerative discs.
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