Phases of Spinal Degeneration
Degeneration Phase 1
During the first stage of spinal degeneration, there is a minor loss of spinal curvature and normal spinal balance. The surrounding features of the spine such as nerves, discs, and joints, together with posture, undergo stress. As a result, the aging of the spine is accelerated. The changes within the intervertebral disc include a reduction in disc volume resulting from fluid loss. Degeneration at this stage may not cause symptoms. However, minor pain, spinal stenosis, and joint problems have been reported. With proper care, there is an excellent chance of reducing or reversing the degeneration.
Degeneration Phase 2
During the second stage of spinal degeneration, disc narrowing and bone spurs (deformation) occur. The spinal curvature continues to change, which in turn causes the posture to deteriorate. The spinal canal narrows (stenosis), and there is a possibility of calcium build-up in the spine. Often, a decrease in movement and motion is noticed, along with aches, pain, fatigue, stress and notice decrease in height. It is vital that these symptoms are not ignored as chiropractic care during this phase can lead to a significant improvement.
Degeneration Phase 3
During the third stage of spinal degeneration, there is a significant increase in postural imbalance, nerve damage, permanent scar tissue, advanced bone deformation, restriction of motion, abnormal curvature of spine, further calcium deposits (spurs), and permanent loss of height and energy. In addition to the physical symptoms, there may be signs of mental weakness or disability, which can occur if the condition is left untreated. However, with care, some reversal is possible.
Degeneration Phase 4
During the fourth stage of spinal degeneration, most damage is permanent, including postural imbalance, limited motion, scar tissue, massive calcium changes, nearly fused bones, decrease in height, nerve damage, and deformation. This is the most advanced stage of degeneration and results from the long term neglect of spinal subluxation. At this point, the condition is irreversible, but chiropractic care can provide some symptomatic relief.
The Chiropractic Approach/Prevention
It is crucial that chiropractic care begins soon rather than later. This will ensure that the patient is given the best chance to slow and even reverse spinal degeneration by improving spinal balance and posture and keeping the joints, nerves, and discs healthy and strong. If the condition is treated in time, the restoration of motion can lead to the restoration of normal function. The longer the subluxation goes on, the more difficult it is and the longer it takes to correct the condition and to return to its normal function.