Archive for the ‘The Science of Spine and Joint Health’ Category

The Science of Spine and Joint Health

September 2, 2009

Everything we do, from sitting at work, standing, sleeping, even going to the bathroom, is under direct control of the spinal column and the nervous system it encases.

Yet not very much medical or media attention is focused on sustaining this all-important area of the human body.

As a result of the neglect, abuse, and lack of proper movement… both the spine and nervous system will suffer from deterioration and degeneration.

Patients and doctors alike are under the misconception that once a spinal condition exists (including disc and nerve damage) you need surgery or are forced to live with pain, weakness and dysfunction for the rest of your life.

However, the truth behind today’s spinal treatments is that while the spine can easily degenerate, it can also regenerate.

Conditions once believed to be permanent can actually be not only healed, but also reversed.

Spinal degeneration is not only the result of accident or injury; it happens during the normal course of aging as well.

A review of published literature indicates that the upright adult spine loses up to 20 mm (slightly more than 3/4 of an inch) of vertical height each day due to loss of fluid from the disc.

A good nights sleep allows the unloaded discs to regain most, but not all, of their fluid and height by the reabsorption of fluid surrounding the discs (Kapandji, 1974).

Since all the fluid is not regained, the spine becomes shorter starting around age 30.

It is common to lose up to 2 inches of height by age 60 due to the loss of disc fluid.

In addition, loss of disc fluid and height may compromise spinal form and function with lateral and rotatory postural deviations of the hips and shoulders (Kapandji, 1974).

The discs are comprised of 88 percent water.

Proper disc hydration is essential for the nourishment, lubrication and function of all joint cartilage, tendons, and ligaments.

This facilitates the spinal discs’ nutrition delivery and waste elimination.

When the body dehydrates, it pulls water out of the “white tissues” first, meaning the ligaments and tendons of the body (i.e., vertebral discs).

A loss of only 12 percent of the water out of the discs will reduce the disc height by 50 percent.

So you can see that it doesn’t take much water loss in the body to start affecting your discs and the function of your nervous system.

How does the water get lost?

Between ages 12-14, the spinal discs’ blood nutrition supply and waste elimination system atrophies.

That means the discs will have to receive their necessary water, nutrients and waste elimination from osmosis and imbibation (movement of the spinal vertebrae that pump fluids, nutrients and waste in and out of the discs).

This becomes a challenge because as people get older they may become more sedentary, developing advancing spinal and postural degenerative conditions and ultimately losing the full range of motion of their spine.

Once they lose this motion, the discs quickly dehydrate and lose height.

In recent years, numerous medical studies have confirmed the essential role of manipulation/traction/decompression and motion in the maintenance of disc health, joint lubrication (synovial fluid), and articular cartilage nutrition.

Researchers have increasingly concluded that impaired joint mobility, which alters the joint lubrication mechanism, may be the principal mechanism in spinal degeneration.

The joints of the body are avascular (no blood supply) which leaves them dependent on movement for proper lubrication.

Until recently, it had been thought that once a disc was degenerated and lost height it could not be restored.

It had also been thought that loss of disc height could not be prevented.

These assumptions are no longer true.

Can the intervertebral discs rehydrate and regenerate? The discs need three things to regenerate:

1. Motion
2. Water
3. Nutrients

Research has shown that if we can create loading and unloading cycles in the spine, we can literally “suck” water back into the disc and joints to rehydrate it predictably. (Multiple references available upon request)

More on this:  Manipulation in Improving Motion and Joint Health ~Review of Medical literature

So what are loading and unloading cycles, and how can they be incorporated into a successful treatment regimen?

Loading and unloading cycles are consecutive alternating compression and traction movements. Repetitive elongation followed by mild compression of the discs produces “imbibation and osmosis” of water into the discs, rehydrating or regenerating the disc height.

Continuous Passive Motion (CPM)-Motion Assisted Adjusting-Leander Technique

Or by Non Surgical Spinal Decompression:  3 min video animation of how spinal discs heal and repair:[[[[Video]]]

These motion cycles can be applied easily and comfortably by using various specialized motion tables. (see above link)

This motion provides many benefits; in addition to disc and joint rehydration, the loading and unloading cycles of the table allows a decompression action thus lubricating these avascular structures.

The discs are like a hard Jell-O. They have considerable tensile strength and rebound, elastic energy.

When a gentle force is applied to the spine to induce motion, the elastic properties will rebound against that force and the hard Jell-O consistency of the disc and joints will lubricate.

To review, these repetitive motion cycles of the table will lubricate and hydrate the Jell-O like consistency of the discs and the synovial lubrication system of the joints.

This in turn will help decrease muscle spasms to help the doctor achieve an easier motion adjustment.

When the spine is soft, it is easier to mold the spine into a new structure.

Once the spine is adjusted and the structure is correctly, the spine can learn the new spinal habit patterns.

The following are some of the benefits of loading and unloading cycles to the spine

1.   Avascular discs ligaments and tendons are nourished and metabolic wastes are eliminated.

2.   Visco-elastic properties of the discs, ligaments and tendons are nourished.

3.   The force needed to adjust or manipulate the spine is reduced.

4.   The discs are rehydrated and disc height is increased.

5.   Disc and tendon strength is increased.

6.   Decrease the potential for injury or severity of injuries for the future.  Especially    when combined with appropriate exercise Prehab.

7.   Spinal joints are lubricated and the cartilage is nourished.

8.   Prevention of adhesions during healing and improved joint integrity of healed joints.

9.   Helping develop the “core” basis for further strength, endurance and agility training.

This type of chiropractic program is one that offers spinal decompressive types of motion to restore spinal movement and bring motion and fluid back to the spinal discs and joints.

The safety and effectiveness of this type of program are far superior to any type of surgery.

To achieve spinal regeneration, you must go to a chiropractor trained in this area of spinal care.

Not all chiropractors are the same.

Similar to the medical field, chiropractic has also become highly specialized.

While the vast majority of chiropractors today are essentially “general practitioners,” certain doctors of chiropractic have high levels of training in neurology, muscle kinesiology, and spinal rehabilitation.

When accompanied with the right nutrients and additional exercises shown to you by your corrective care chiropractor, all of the elements necessary for spinal regeneration are there.

At any age, with any level of degeneration, the potential for some degree of correction and healing is possible.

Other good articles:

Chiropractic and Regular Exercise-Part of the Anti-aging Puzzle

Continuous Passive Motion (CPM)-Motion Assisted Adjusting-Leander Technique

Chiropractic and Spinal Rehabilitation

If you are suffering from: Sports Injuries, Sprains, Strains, Car accident,  Herniated Disc, Disc Bulge, Degenerative Disc Disease, Neck pain, Headaches, Low back pain, of just want to feel better and have better life performance– please call our office in Irvine, California- at 949.857.1888 or visit our website at ADJUST2IT  or IRVINESPINEANDSPORTIRVINESPINEANDSPORT . To learn more about Functional Fitness Chiropractic, Sports massage, Myofascial Release, Corrective Exercise, Non Surgical Spinal Decompression,  and Functional Nutrition.