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Six Months to Permanent Back and Spine Damage: Why Early Treatment is Key

Spine ModelIf you suffer from back and neck pain, it can be tempting to second-guess yourself about seeking treatment. You may hope that your pain resolves on its own, or that you get used to dealing with the pain over time. It may seem like seeing a doctor for your back pain is an unnecessary expense or takes up too much time in your schedule.

However, it is important to realize that over the course of a few months, your central nervous system starts to adapt to changes. This includes spinal changes that occur when the spine is out of alignment, or imbalanced. This damage, which is permanent, can happen in as little as 6 months.

As a licensed NUCCA chiropractor in Virginia, I have helped many patients improve their spinal health before permanent damage can set in. This article will discuss the types of permanent spine damage that can take place when the back is out of alignment, and how chiropractic care can help.

What is Spinal Alignment?

Spinal alignment refers to the natural position of your spine. Your doctor can check your spinal alignment to make sure your spine is in a healthy position. A normal spinal alignment has a few different traits:

  • The neck (cervical spine) is gently concave, meaning it bends slightly inward
  • The mid-back (thoracic spine) is convex, meaning it bends gently outward
  • The lower back (lumbar spine) is gently concave
  • The vertebrae down your back line up straight with the groove between your buttocks

Different types of spinal misalignment exist. Some types of spinal misalignment are structural problems with the spine, like scoliosis. Other types of spinal misalignment can result from poor posture or excessive sitting.

What Types of Permanent Spinal Damage Can Occur from the Spine Being Misaligned?

When the spine carries an abnormal load for an extended period of time – generally around 6 months –permanent damage can occur. Types of permanent damage resulting from spinal misalignment, or imbalance, include:

  • Bone remodeling: Remodeling means that structural changes take place in your body. Generally, these changes are not healthy. In bone remodeling, new bone is formed, often in an abnormal way. In your spine, this can mean the development of bone spurs, which can compress the nerves in your spine and lead to pain.
  • Scar tissue: Ligaments are the tissues in your body that connect bone to bone. When you damage your ligaments, scar tissue can form during the wound repair process.
  • Degenerative disc disease: The discs in your back work to provide cushion between the vertebrae that make up your spinal column. Problems with the discs in your back, such as loss in height of the discs, can occur with long-term spinal misalignment. Over time, this can cause problems like bulging and herniated discs.
  • Sclerosis of vertebral endplates: Vertebral endplates are located between the vertebrae of your spine and the discs in your back. They function as a buffer between the hard vertebrae of the spine and the more delicate discs. Spinal misalignment can damage the endplates, causing calluses to form and causing the endplates to harden. In turn, this endplate damage can cause spinal pain and inflammation.

How Does Permanent Damage to the Spine Result from Spinal Misalignment?

Permanent damage is the result of a vicious cycle of spinal imbalance:

  1. Damage to the tissues: The first step in the cycle is usually damage or trauma to the muscles, tendons, bones or ligaments in your back
  2. Inflammation: Following damage, your body’s natural inflammatory process kicks in
  3. Muscle spasms: Involuntary contractions of the muscles can occur following damage
  4. Adhesions: These scar-like tissues replace healthy, normal tissues in your spine with collagen. Adhesions make tissues stick together abnormally.
  5. Changes in neuromuscular control: The central nervous system and the spinal musculature work together. Cumulative damage to your spine’s alignment can impact this.
  6. Muscle imbalance: The muscles in your back, and throughout your body, can be impacted by this cycle of damage. This in turn can lead to more tissue damage, repeating the vicious cycle of spinal imbalance.

Does Chiropractic Care Fix Spinal Misalignment?

Chiropractic care can fix your spinal imbalance. Your chiropractor can perform a spinal adjustment, which moves your spinal vertebrae into a more stable position. This can both reduce pain and support normal movement of the spinal joints.

NUCCA chiropractic, in particular, focuses on spinal misalignment of the cervical spine, in the neck area and how it affects the overall alignment of the spine including the low back and hips. X-ray views of the head and neck are used to make mathematical measurements to evaluate the misalignment. The doctor then evaluates the X-rays to identify the relationship between posture and upper cervical misalignment.

NUCCA is a specialty that focuses on spinal biomechanics and light force. A biomechanical assessment of the spine is the first step in chiropractic care and is typically performed by a doctor credentialed in spinal biomechanics. Orthopedic doctors with a spine fellowship and neurosurgeons are excellent choices for the diagnosis and care of anatomical issues of the spine like fractures and tumors. However, biomechanical spine problems are typically outside their area of focus.

Treating Spinal Misalignment at Precision Spinal Care

If you are seeking care for your spinal imbalance, it is important to choose a doctor who is specifically credentialed in spinal biomechanics. These providers will be able to perform a biomechanical spine assessment and give recommendations on how best to treat your condition.

My experience and expertise in spinal biomechanics allow me to competently address your spinal misalignment. I am trauma and hospital-qualified and have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

At your first visit, I will review your medical records and perform a thorough examination. After your exam, we will discuss my findings and I will answer any questions you have.

If we decide that chiropractic care is not the best treatment for your spinal stenosis, I will refer you to the appropriate provider to best meet your needs.

At Precision Spinal Care we are happy to help you determine the best way to treat your spinal stenosis. Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak with me or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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