I have read a lot on disc herniations over the last seven years, so much so, and so much regarding the increasing frequency of such, that I believe that 90% of the population over the age of 40, is on the “spectrum” of herniation.
What I mean by the spectrum, is that they are at some level of dysfunction that is similar to, or developing into, herniation. The image below from Spine Universe (http://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/herniated-disc/herniated-discs-definition-progression-diagnosis), demonstrates the general progression of herniation, and how it appears.
The first image, disc degeneration, we diagnose that every single week in someone new. In other words, from 13-75, I expect to regularly see this in people who have suffered trauma, the most common one in youth, is sports related, and in adults, it has been a car accident. I believe that the level of herniation that exists in the average 40+ adult, is prolapse.
This is a point at which there is usually obvious visual changes to the spine which can be seen via x-ray. Thinning of the disc, bone spurs that extend laterally (away from) off of the body of the bone, and the disc protrudes along the edge of that bone spur. And this is the reason why we care, because this alteration in bone and soft tissue disposition, has the potential to put incredible stress on the nerves, and spinal cord. We have actually found a significant number of people in the last four months, who have bone spurs that are putting pressure on either the meningeal sac (the sac that holds the CSF fluid that protects the cord), or directly on the spinal cord.
I am writing about this less to INFORM you about what is likely happening to you and your spine, but rather to inspire you to action for your children’s spines. You see the issue, is that they are the ones who are going to have severe issues, even worse than yours, if YOU don’t do something to inspire them to DO something. I say this because they are exposed to an exponential increase in spinal degenerative states.
Yeah, thats it. You see, the trauma is simply a precipitating event. It weakens the soft tissue ligamentous structures that support the spine. Through normal healing, which requires mobilization of scarred tissues, the spine will return to normal function. The problem, is that we go through a period of immobilization, followed by (in 90% of cases) a constant state of poorly supported spinal position. Posturing that pushes the weight of the head forward on the spine (seated, whether in school, in a car, at a computer, holding a mobile device… big one right there), this head forward position puts stress on the vertebrae, causing it to malform, to compensate for that stress.
The result is the degenerative changes to the spine and disc that I have discussed here. This is the worst case scenario for long term nervous system function, and health… and it is way too common a scenario these days.
What is the solution? A lifetime of chiropractic care? Yes, that will help, but even that might come too late. Postural concern? Yes, that is important, reduction of trauma? Yes that too. In the end, we have a duty to pay attention to everything that puts stress into ours and our children’s spines. I am not as fearful of the trauma, as I am the posture. I say this because the things that can act as trauma to the spine, are so plentiful, that limiting the damage from sports, only leaves opportunity for damage due to constant forward head posture. There is a no win situation in our culture, unless you are simply all over the posture.
So take this information to try to prevent, but use us to detect. We are running a patient appreciation day this day, June 11th, a special opportunity for you to get those you care about checked out. I recommend you take advantage of this with your kids. Don’t ignore the importance of this possible situation.
Be well and be blessed, lets get this community on the path to great long term health. – Dr. E