San Francisco Chiropractor Comments:
Well...spinal degeneration is the opposite of generate, which means "grow".
When we stop growing we begin to degenerate...and this happens to everything.
So is spinal degeneration normal?
Yes, to a certain extent...just like a certain amount of tread wear on a tire is normal as long as the conditions are right...such as a normal front end alignment, good brake pads and shocks, normal road conditions, and of course your driving habits.
The most common form of spinal degeneration is from abnormal wear and tear...or what chiropractors call subluxation degeneration, which comes from spinal misalignment's (vertebral subluxations) that are left undetected and uncorrected. And for the most part, this process starts when we are very young.
What happens is, the spinal bones lose their normal position which creates abnormal forces on the spinal structures such as the spinal discs, ligaments, facet joints, and vertebral end plates. These abnormal forces (along with a cascade of inflammatory and chemical responses) cause the structures to breakdown prematurely leading to spinal degeneration and degenerative disc disease (DDD).
In addition, lifestyle choices we make (I refer to this as our "context") such as the food we eat , the amount of exercise we get, smoking, drinking, stress, rest, etc., can also contribute towards spinal degeneration. The healthier the lifestyle, the better.
Side Note: The typical American diet (and 70% of us are overwight or obese) is rich an animal protein, processed foods, chemicals, and toxins, which can lead to chronic inflamation, obesity, and spinal degeneration.
In a nutshell...we reflect the quality of our context. Just like the pond in your backyard reflects the quality of it's context...or a river, or an ocean, or the planet.
So what can I do to make sure my spine does not degenerate prematurely or if it already has, slow the degeneration down?
The first thing you should do is get a spinal exam from a chiropractor...one that specializes in posture. You want to find out if you have a short leg also, foot pronation, or a rotated pelvis...these are all part of a good spinal exam. If you are out of alignment, follow your chiropractors recommendations to fix the problem...then get checked every so often to maintain the changes.
Depending on the severity of your condition and your desire to change (the primary factor), your chiropractor can help you modify your lifestyle choices and get you on the right track.
As I chiropractor and family doctor, I want to teach my patients about the causes of vertbral subluxation, as well as treat the subluxations themselves. This way the changes are more permanent.
So, Yes...spinal degeneration can happen quick....especially when we get older. But chiropractic and a healthy lifestyle can slow it down and help you enjoy a long active life :-)
Dr. Eben Davis is clinic director of Executive Express Chiropractic in San Francisco. To schedule an appointment call 415-392-2225.