When your spine is aligned correctly, it will be straight up and down from front to back without any rotation of the individual bones. Unwanted curvature to the side is called “Scoliosis.” Because of the severe pressure on the nervous system and organs, an excessive degree of scoliosis is considered a medical emergency. Therefore, any curves to the side here are unhealthy. People with scoliosis have been shown to experience up to a 14 year reduction in life expectancy (Idiopathic Scoliosis: long-term follow-up & prognosis in untreated patients J Bone Joint Surg Am 1981 Jun;63(5):702-12).
FROM THE SIDE
Evaluating the spine from the side, there must be three distinct curves in the neck (Cervical), mid-back (Thoracic), and low back (Lumb-pelvic).
This stretching can lead to deterioration of the cord and nerves themselves and cause both moderate and severe neurological symptoms as well as diseases of the nervous system. 3 Unfortunately, if you’ve had trauma, there is a 98 percent chance you will have lost all or part of the curve in your neck. 4
If you were to look at your spine from the side it should have three 45 degree curves in it: one in the neck, one in the mid-back, and one in the low back. The three perfectly symmetrical curves help to support and hold up your body and to absorb the impact of everyday life.
The most common area of spinal deterioration, damage and disc herniations, the low back, should also have a 45 degree curve. If that curve starts to straighten out it is like straightening out a banana with it’s peel on. What happens to the banana? It smashes. That is exactly what happens to the discs, which are in between every vertebrae in your spine. A slip or fall, or constant bad posture, or too much improper lifting, etc. cause that curve in the low back to decrease and straighten out. As the curve straightens, more and more pressure is put on the discs. Eventually the discs cannot take it anymore and finally one will give. The discs bulges out like a squeezed balloon. This bulging presses into the near by nerve and makes it extremely irritated, hence all the pain.
So, most of the time the problem isn’t the herniated disc, it’s the loss of the structure in the spine. A surgeon will go in, scrape off the bulging disc so it stops irritating the nerve. But, does that fix the problem? No, the banana is still mashed, you just cleaned up the banana mush that was spilling out of the peel. This quick fix type of patchwork is why up to 50-90% of back surgeries fail within 5 years, and then new patchwork needs to be done!5 If you constantly patch the holes in your car’s tires and never realign them, what happens? A blow out!
Too many people in agony from herniated disc pain learn about this condition the hard way: after the suffering has already began. The pain is so debilitating at times that many feel the only pathway to relief is to cut. But surgery is not the answer. The majority of back surgeries fail.6 The return of the pain after back surgery is so common it has a special name: Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS). FBSS often entails chronic pain, sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and de-conditioning.7 In addition it also increases one’s risk of developing peripheral artery disease, diabetes, and autoimmune disorders. These people are left with a further damaged spine, additional pain, less money, and the original unresolved problem. Most devastating of all, if not properly addressed, disc herniations keep people from doing the things they love to do with the people they love to do them with.
Doctors of chiropractic have an excellent track record with many spinal health conditions. Why? Because rather that masking the signs and symptoms of the problem, we address the root cause, by using the latest techniques available to correct spinal curves, straighten the spine from front to back, and strengthen postural muscles.
1 Dynamic studies of
cervical spinal canal and spinal cord by magnetic resonance imaging.
Koshered F, Jensen H Terwey B. Acta Radiol Suppl. 1986;369:727-9
Department of Rad., Univ. of Kiel, Oldenburg, West Germany)
2 Alf Breig. “Skull Traction and Cervical Cord Injury.” Springer-Verlag, New York, 1989. (Ref 20, 35, 42, 46).
Biomechanical aspects of the cervical cord: effects of postural changes in healthy volunteers using positional magnetic resonance imaging.
Kuwazawa Y, Bashir W, Pope MH, Takahashi K, Smith FW. J Spinal Disord Tech. 2006 Jul;19(5):348-52. Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Liberty Safe Work Research Centre, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, UK.
Muhle C, Wiskirchen J, Weiner D, Falliner A, Wesner F, Brinkmann G, Heller M.Spine. 1998 Mar 1;23(5):556-67 Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Christian-Albrechts University Kiel, Germany
3 Alf Breig. “Skull Traction and Cervical Cord Injury.” Springer-Verlag, New York, 1989. (Ref 20, 35, 42, 46).
Neurosurgery. 2005 May;56(5):1101-13, Henderson FC
Pathophysiology and treatment for Cervical Flexion Myelopathy. Fujimoto Y, Oka S, Tanaka N, Nishikawa K, Kawagoe H, Baba I. Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Hiroshima University School of Medicine, Kasumi 1-2-3, Minami-ku, Hiroshima, 734-8551 Japan. firstname.lastname@example.org
Spine. 30(21):2388-2392, November 1, 2005.Shimizu, Kentaro MD *; Nakamura, Masaya MD *; Nishikawa, Yuji MD +;Hijikata, Sadahisa MD +; Chiba, Kazuhiro MD *; Toyama, Yoshiaki MD
4 “The Use of Flexion and Extension MRI in the Evaluation of Cervical Spine Trauma: Initial Experience in 100 Trauma Patients Compared with 100 Normal Subjects”Giuliano et al, Emergency Radiology (October 2002) 9: 249-253
6 Groopman J. A knife in the back (Is surgery the best approach to chronic pain?). The New Yorker. April 8, 2002.
7 Fritsch EW, Heisel J, Rupp S (Mar 1996). "The failed back surgery syndrome: reasons, intraoperative findings, and long-term results: a report of 182 operative treatments". Spine 21 (5): 626–33.