The shape of the spine has a normal alignment that allows for proper movement and aging of the spine. Degeneration of the spine is a change that can take place over time as the spine ages. Degeneration is when the spinal discs, located between the vertebral bodies, begin to thin and the vertebral bodies begin to have bone spurs. The study I am summarizing today was published in 2016 and is titled, “Association Between Lumbar Spine Sagittal Alignment and L4-L5 Disc Degeneration Among Asymptomatic Young Adults”.
The study was published in Spine Biomechanics and was designed to identify if there exists a spinal alignment sub-type that is related to degeneration in the lumbar spine. Degeneration of the spine can cause many downstream effects to one’s health. Some of these include pain, decreased range of motion, inflammation of spinal facet joints, tight muscles or muscles spasms, and this is just to name a few. When there is inflammation at the spinal motion segment due to facet irritation, this is where chiropractors theorize that inflammation in that area can cause interference at the spinal nerve root. Chronic inflammation at any certain nerve may cause any number of negative effects to the area of the body supplied by that nerve. Certain nerves go to certain organs and control various specific areas of the body. This is why chiropractic spinal manipulation may have some effect on bodily functions. There is more research and study that needs to be done in the area in order to make these statements more than theory. Nevertheless, chiropractors, including myself, see patients having relief from not only back pain, but visceral functions as well. At Complete Health Chiropractic Littleton, we view spinal health as an ultimate preventative measure. In order to avoid spinal degeneration, you have to restore proper spinal alignment before the degeneration sets in. This study helps to validate that there is a lumbar spinal alignment sub type that correlates with degeneration at L4/L5 disc space and that this degeneration can be present in asymptomatic individuals. We would therefore like to implement a screening process in asymptomatic young individuals to help them avoid early onset degeneration.
This study was done looking at asymptomatic individuals which tells us that you can have degeneration in the spine without exhibiting symptoms. Even though symptoms are not present yet, degeneration is something that should be screened for and avoided if possible. Since this study shows us that sagittal alignment and balance of the spine play a role in lumbar disc degeneration, we should be screening for sagittal alignment at a young age before the degeneration can set in. From the study abstract, the authors conclusion is as follows:
“Conclusion. The Roussouly sub-type II sagittal alignment is significantly associated with disc degeneration at L4-L5 in asymptomatic young adults. Our results support the hypothesis that spinal sagittal alignment plays a role in early disc degeneration.”
This clinic is one of many chiropractors that utilize chiropractic biophysics technique as the primary method for treating spinal conditions. Chiropractic BioPhysics technique is the most researched chiropractic technique on the planet with over 200 research studies published in the peer reviewed medical literature. Our goal for spinal care is to restore the sagittal spinal balance back to a normal shape by using various traction techniques. By restoring a normal alignment, the forces of gravity will be going through the proper structure meant to carry that weight without breaking down. The structures on the spine designed to carry the weight is the facet joints.
In concluding this blog post, I would like to invite anyone who would like to screen their spine for possible misalignment to visit our schedule page and sign up for an initial appointment time. Remember that spinal degeneration can begin many year before symptoms start to show up and the easiest way to avoid degeneration is to restore normal alignment before the degeneration can begin.
Menezes-Reis, R., Bonugli, G. P., Dalto, V. F., Carlos Fernando Pereira Da Silva Herrero, Defino, H. L., & Nogueira-Barbosa, M. H. (2016). Association Between Lumbar Spine Sagittal Alignment and L4-L5 Disc Degeneration Among Asymptomatic Young Adults. Spine, 41(18). doi:10.1097/brs.0000000000001568