SILENT DISC DEGENERATION
With every move we make, and every step we take, our bodies are subject to some form of shock, minor though this jarring may be. Automobile manufacturers have engineered their cars to smooth out bumps using shock absorbers. Long, long ago nature eased that problem for us, by creating cushions between the spinal vertebrae. They resemble little sponges, with tough, fibrous outer coverings surrounding soft, jell-like nuclei.
Problems with discs are generally first due to a weakening, followed by an injury or strain that precipitates trouble. The inner nucleus is forced out at a weak place in the outer covering as either a bulging (hernia), or an outright bursting (rupture).
Weakening or degeneration is basically caused by a long-term disturbance in the normal nutrition or metabolism of the disc tissue. However a nutritional deficiency in some small area is not due to a general lack in a person's diet. Discs are nourished by absorbing essential elements and nutriments from the tissue fluids that surround them. Nutritional products are picked up and waste products are put into this fluid, which comes and goes through the blood vascular system. If blood flow in any area is partially shut down, waste products will build up because they are not being carried off, and an actual starvation of that tissue begins due to a curtailed supply of building materials. Circulation shut-down to a disc results in a gradual degeneration causing the disc's wall to weaken and eventually give way.
Often the initial sign that a person's disc is deteriorating, is when a weakened area bulges out into a nerve next to it. Simply bending over can bring on such a bulge when the wall has thinned sufficiently. The pain generated in the affected nerve can be excruciating down an arm or leg, and permanent weakness may result if the bulge is not removed.
Bed rest and traction can sometimes allow temporary easing of the bulge, but the original cause has not been specifically corrected. Articulations must be straightened and made flexible to improve circulation, and the blood supply to the spine itself must not be impeded.
The chiropractor works directly with the spine. His(her) years of training and specialized equipment enable him to help the body straighten itself. Circulation, alignment, and motion are reestablished and healing begins. Healing is much faster because that action taken also removes the cause of the weakening.
In a few cases surgery may actually be required, especially if rupture has occurred, but, statistics show that most cases can be salvaged under conservative treatment. If proper chiropractic adjustments are begun in time, the leveling of the vertebrae often causes the bulge to work itself back into the center of the disc. The body itself is continually attempting to do this on its own. Sometimes just a tiny amount of trained assistance is all that's needed to make the difference.
There is yet another aspect of chiropractic that is actually more important to the repair process than a direct physical straightening. When the spinal vertebrae are brought back into their proper positions higher up in the spine, the nervous system itself is made more free. This result, in fact, is actually the chiropractor's purpose in the first place. His motive technically is not sore back treatment at all, but to reach the goal of a totally free nerve communications system within the body.
To be sure, the process of straightening the vertebrae to release the nerve impulse flow makes the back feel better, but this then has caused a perception problem: The public has come to regard the chiropractor as a back doctor, rather than a doctor for over-all health. Nonetheless, when the fascinating inner intelligence that automatically runs the body becomes free to fully flow over all the nerves, it is able to correct all sorts of physical problems - - from the inside! This includes virtually all other tissues as well as disc tissue.
Circulation to the disc tissues and the healing metabolism there, are but two of the functions regulated by this innate intelligence. Interference to or impingement of the nerve it uses to control circulation, can causes constriction of the arteries to the spine and disc tissue. This then produces the slow weakening we have mentioned because of sluggish blood flow. The control nerves over this area must be released where they are blocked by vertebrae out of place, and then be kept free. (This blockage is often higher up in the spine or neck.) Messages must get through from the brain to continuously facilitate and maintain proper circulation in the arteries supplying the disc below. The chiropractor not only restores spinal balance, he corrects the very root cause by restoring the inner control mechanism. This allows the body to heal from the inside - - really the only way it can heal! (We have very graphic MRI’s of discs bulging into the lumbar spinal canal, then after adjustments to just the upper cervical area to release the nerves feeding the lower back, follow-up MRI’s demonstrate how retraction has occurred!)
As a final thought, there is often no pain existing at the point where the vertebra blocks the messages flowing along the control nerves. Generally speaking then, the disc tissue degenerates for years out at the end of its control nerve, but with no pain - either at the point of pinch up above, or at the dying disc, nothing alerts the person! Finally, when the tissue deteriorates enough to bulge and give pain, the problem is well on the way to permanent disability.
With this in mind, a patient once free from an ordinary back muscle spasm, should maintain close vigilance over the causative control nerves. If they again become quietly blocked (no pain), the discs themselves may begin silent deterioration, due to a resulting circulation shutdown. Then, when one is eventually stressed, it can bulge and give an attack that is indeed serious. Also with each succeeding pain occurrence, a bit more irreparable damage is done to the disc. Such episodes, along with the long-term degeneration from the quiet nerve blockage, eventually cause the disc to become so destroyed, it can no longer be rescued by the chiropractor's spinal adjustments. Only surgery remains, with its problematical success rate.
Prevention makes more sense! If you've never had back trouble, but are fortunate enough to have discovered a nerve blockage ahead of time, get it corrected! (Virtually any tissue can be affected by the same mechanism, depending on which nerve tracts may be blocked. It is considered premature aging when one tissue, gland, or organ deteriorates in this way before its fellows.)
Finally, after correction, commit yourself to a quarterly check-up to be sure blockages have not returned to restart the whole process. (Do be sure that your chiropractor has a method of checking the vital upper cervical area. The goal is to get the nerve messages flowing freely there, then leave it alone. Certain checking instruments are able to detect blockages long before pathology develops out at the ends of those blocked nerves. Furthermore, it would be wrong to upset the status of the upper cervicals if there were nothing wrong there.)
Jack W. Kribs, Chiropractor
Beecher Rd. Chiropractic
Phone (810) 733-3370 for a free spinal screening to see if upper cervical blockage may be the reason for failure to heal in the lumbars.
Also serving all of Genesee County, Clio, Davison, Fenton, Flushing, Grand Blanc, Mt. Morris, Swartz Creek, Plus Saginaw, Owosso, and Lapeer, Michigan.
WORLDWIDE REFERRAL SERVICE: www.upcspine.com/