Degenerative Joint Disease – Spine Osteoarthritis
My doctor says I have degenerative changes in my spine. Does this mean I have arthritis?
Yes. The phrase “degenerative changes” in the spine refers to osteoarthritis of the spine. Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis. Doctors may also refer to it as degenerative arthritis or degenerative joint disease.
Osteoarthritis in the spine most commonly occurs in the neck and lower back. With age, the soft disks that act as cushions between the spine’s vertebrae dry out and shrink. This narrows the space between vertebrae, and bone spurs may develop.
Gradually, your spine stiffens and loses flexibility. In some cases, bone spurs on the spine can pinch a nerve root — causing pain, weakness or numbness. (1)
Well, while this explanation is factually true, we first examine why, the spine stiffens and loses flexibility. Every day in our life we move. Life is Motion as the saying goes. Getting out of bed, walking, washing your face, picking up the laundry basket, running after the kids, all puts motion into our spine. When we are growing there is a direct blood supply to the discs in between our vertebrae. After we stop growing, there is no longer a direct blood flow to the disc and now the disc rely on our everyday movement to pump fluid and new cells into the discs. As long as your spine is the proper position, and the joints move naturally, your discs will never degenerate. While looking at over 10,000 sets of x rays at our office in the last 30 years, when we discover degenerative joint in the spine, we will note that the disc right below or above, is in perfect condition. The discs are the same age right? How can one disc have the normal height, and the disc right next to it is dried out and shrunk? The joint has been chronically stuck. No motion means no pumping in of new cells.
Upper Neck Misalignment Sets Off a Chain Reaction
The first vertebra at the top of the spine, the Atlas or C1 vertebrae, is formed and shaped differently that any of the other vertebrae. The joint between the atlas and the skull are flatter and this accounts for almost 90% of all the motion in the neck. Because of the great ability of these joints to move, traumas in life will force the atlas out of alignment. When the atlas misaligns, it will tilt the head left or right. The inner ear has a reflex known as the righting reflex, which will always try a keep the eyes level with the horizon. So, if the atlas tilts the head and the brain levels the eyes, the shoulder will drop on one side and the pelvis will pull up on the same side to keep the head over the pelvis.
If the upper neck alignment is not corrected, certain joints lose movement and circulation. As the disc shrink, the vertebrae become closer together. The bones start to rub on one another. When there is bone stress, the brain reacts by sending more calcium the bone to support the bone stress. This is known as Wolff’s Law. The calcium deposits will grow and eventually form spurs. The spurs project into the area when the spinal nerve and spinal cord reside.
One Bone Controls it All
The Blair Upper Cervical Technique is a specific approach to analyzing and correcting misalignments in the upper neck. Once the upper neck is re-aligned the entire spine starts to unwind. Stuck joints now, naturally begin to move again. By keeping the upper neck in alignment all the other spinal joints regain the normal circulation. Over time the disc spaces can regrow. As the disc height returns, the bone stress is eliminated and the brain will reabsorb the calcium spurs. Spinal Joint Degeneration, depending on its severity, takes decades to develop. Restoring proper nerve supply to the muscles of the spine can slow, stop and eventually reverse the degeneration of the joints given time.
You do not have to take the diagnose of osteoarthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease as hopeless cause. Call today!