Disc Problems and Osteoarthritis
The intervertral disc, a cartilaginous material located between each of the spinal vertebrae, serves as a shock absorber by absorbing the force of the body´s gravitational weight and provides a separation between the two connected vertebrae. With all other factors remaining constant, the thickness of the intervertebral disc is directly proportional to the size of the hole formed from in between the vertebrae. This is of utmost importance because the hole exists solely for the purpose of enabling the spinal nerves to pass through. Therefore, the thicker the intervertebral disc, the greater the likelihood that there will not be an irritation to these nerves. When the discs are healthy and the vertebrae are aligned, the spine is able to move freely in all directions.
Analogous to a wet sponge, when the disc is hydrated, it becomes more voluminous and possesses more cushioning properties. A dried out disc, on the other hand, is rigid and more susceptible to injury.
Intervertebral discs, by nature, have very poor blood supply and therefore depend on articular fluids in order to supply nutrients and remove waste residues. If a vertebra loses its normal movement, this exchange process is impeded and the condition of the disc deteriorates. This process in which the disc dries out is called degenerative disc disease.
Trauma (or repeated micro-traumas) and poor postures, can cause the disc to rupture or herniate. The bulging or herniated discs can press against the spinal cord and nerve roots. This results in an interference in proper nervous system function that may provoke pain. (Sometimes there is no pain associated with herniated or protruded discs).
The chiropractic management of those suffering with disc problems is to help reestablish normal movement and position to the vertebrae. Futhermore, by reducing the disc bulging, this will improve the nervous system function and decrease inflammation allowing the slow healing process of the surrounding soft tissues to begin.
Osteoarthritis, also known as arthrosis, is the most common of the articular disorders which often affect the vertebrae, hip, knee, wrist/hand, ankle/feet and shoulder. In many cases, patients with osteoarthritis do not experience pain until the condition progresses to advanced stages. It is often the case that symptoms are worse in the morning and there is increased sensitivity to weather changes especially increased humidity/precipitation.
Spondylosis is a term used to describe osteoarthritis specifically in the vertebral column. The surfaces of the bones in joints are lined by articular cartilage that reduce friction and function as shock absorbers. Through a series of factors that happen throughout the process of living day to day (certain types of trauma, prolonged repetitive movements, poor postures, etc. ) these articulations of the vertebral column may loose their mobility. When a vertebra looses its normal alignment, and consequently its normal movement, this process is called the vertebral subluxation. The degenerative process of spondylosis begins starting from when there is a loss of movement in the articulation. It is a slow process that takes at least 10 or 15 years from its onset before its physical manifestations can be detected on an x-ray. If the subluxation is not corrected in time, the vertebral articulation slowly degenerates and in time form structures called osteophytes (also known as bone spurs) and the complete degradation of the intervertebral disc. If this happens, the vertebrae fuse together and there will be a permanent loss of mobility and almost certainly a pronounced irritation of the adjacent spinal nerve.
The chiropractic adjustment can help prevent the development of arthrosis by realigning the vertebrae and thus restoring mobility to the joint. In the case that arthrosis is already present, through chiropractic one can help to ensure that the degenerative process does not worsen.