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You are older much longer than you are young.  We share this with our patients, because we see a variety of patients at different stages in their life.  We also have observed their spinal conditions and know their histories.  We share many things in common.  We have been given a perfect creation in our bodies; however, we were cast in a hostile environment.  The following indicates the common obstacles we have found in any recovery or are predictors for joint problems.

WEIGHT GAIN:  This may be the most significant obstacle to recovery.  This obviously creates greater forces on joints, restricts flexibility and motion, and strains organ function.  We see people with spines that were created for only a small, petite, thin person, but this person is now a 100lbs. overweight.  We try to help but the burdens are too great.  The most common contributors to this weight gain is sugar metabolism, depression, steroid drugs, and hormonal imbalances.  Most recently, high physical activity contributes little to weight loss.  I see many runners forcIng themselves into highly stressful postures and joint trauma, because they just do not know how to run.  Erect motion is critical; standing and walking are more important than damaging your joints.

HIGH ACID CONSUMPTION: Diet contributes to the quality to the regeneration of tissues.  Over time high acid foods put a strain on the system.  These acids must be buffered.  Many tissues show the effects of trying to maintain balance.

HISTORY OF HEAVY AND REPETITIVE WORK:  Unfortunately, if you elect or by circumstance  perform manual labor over time, you will pay a dear price.  By nature, we are not necessarily designed to be beasts of burden and to repeat tasks under postural stresses with high resistance and vibrations.  These negative outside forces will destroy joints and add to characteristics associated with degeneration.  Carpet layers have knee problems early.  People get carpal tunnel from repetitive tasks in factories.  The examples go on.

HISTORY OF CONTACT AND SEMI-CONTACT SPORTS:  I cannot tell you how many people we see who were hurt playing sports and now have degenerative problems.  Concussions are more serious than we used to think.  Go to any memorabilia convention and see the older professional football players, and you will see some very overweight degenerative people who at one short moment in their life were considered a healthy and highly performing specimen.  All of my own degenerative problems stem from overdoing it and having injuries.  "Working through the pain" may or may not build character, but, for sure, it contributes to inflammation and decades of painful and resisted movement.

ABUSE:  Unfortunately, we see people who look as though they have been continuously beaten and violently shaken.  Only some women share with us as having a history of abuse.  When you see someone with similar instability and they deny trauma and injuries, we wonder, because degeneration and instability is always a cause and effect pattern.  The problem does not happen on its own, and when one denies any injury, you suspect abuse where it is something they do not want to share.  Later some have told us of their abuse history, and it confirms that this goes on and can make it very difficult to help them if it is still ongoing.

HISTORY OF YOGA, DANCE, GYMNASTICS:  I have not seen a study, but I have observed that people with a history of extreme activities overtime in these areas have spinal problems.  I do not consider it healthy to take a young person and have them stretch the joints beyond the normal range of motion to be considered a good thing.  To do this and then apply to jarring force can only damage the joint to a greater extent.  Many of these people have spinal listhesis ( vertebral body shear on the disc plates) with damaged ligaments not holding the structures together.  It is almost addictive in nature to violate these joints, like popping your knuckles and neck.  Green bones and joints eventually mature, but do so having been destabilized by this earlier activity.  Some people are considered hypermobile, and it is idiopathic, meaning that we do not know why and it is uneventful and not necessarily a problem.  An hypermobile joint that can be isolated as nonsystemic, but rather unique to the other joints, is not a good thing, and I see it too often with these people when they mature.

UNSTABLE UPPER CERVICAL SPINE AND THE VAGUS NERVE FUNCTION: The undiscovered cause of most health problems is the lack of tone from the vagus nerve.  Many of these categories can negatively effect parasympathetic functions critical to all neurological activities, because cervical health influences the brain's communication with the entire body, especially at the upper cervical spine.  Injuries, poor posture, curvature problems of the cervical spine create stress, imbalance, and illness with obstructions to neural functions at this critical area, as well as lax ligaments.  The vagus nerve can effect all cranial nerves, but the vagus extends down through the body (wandering) so it is influenced by motion, being most vulnerable at C1.  All high levels of optimum health are governed by high levels of Heart Rate Variability (HRV), a good measurement for  this high tone.

HISTORY OF AUTO ACCIDENT:  We spend a good deal of our lives in vehicles, and odds have it that you will collide with someone else.  You were not designed to do well at these forces.  It is amazing that we survive at all.  Those hurt in an auto accident are shown to be more likely to be hurt more so in another accident.  We do not do well by design under hyperflexion when our design is most stable and functional in extension.

SEVERE TRAUMA: Any severe fall, accident, or injury becomes permanently imbedded into your muscle and joint memory.  It produces a reflexive force to protect you, but it also produces inflammation and leads to degeneration.  It does not have to be so serious to send you to the hospital.  Unless you can release this reflexive force, it will be with you forever.  Traumas also are similar whether mental or physical; you can forget the trauma, but still have the scars.

WEIGHTLIFTING:  Although very popular for many years, excessive bodybuilding has done very little to making someone healthy.  It is just another aggressive sport that can hurt you over time.  Bodybuilders most often do not balance their lifting so they lose flexibility.  Also most have severe arthritis at the thoraic/lumbo junction from T9-T12 into L1.  I often see compression fractures and excessive lateral osteophytes with little to no disc space.

DRUGS: It should be quite obvious that drugs have long term harmful effects of your organ systems.  They influence ones perception of pain and, for that matter, reality.  They were for management of symptoms and create dependency.  If any patient is too absorbed into medication, we cannot be successful in helping them.

NONCOMPLIANCE: The patient does not follow the plan of care.  We may recommend activities and additional procedures that the patient elects not to follow.  The patient does not return for follow up visits.  The treatment is a  process that necessitates a concentrated series of treatments.  If one breaks the pattern, it is like starting over; it is better not to start if you do not intend to follow the process.  It is not fair to us or to you.  Thinking that you are better can lead to noncompliance and inevitable disappointment.

WORKPLACE AND POSTURAL BAD HABITS:  Wallets in your pocket, improper foot supports and lifts, poor fitting shoes, slouching postures, lower mounted computer screens, flexion from cell phone use, no lumbar supports, poorly designed chairs for your size and activity, long road trips without stretching, and improper lifting (lifting and rotating) may not in themselves create a spinal condition, but they can aggravate and overtime can contribute to further inflammation and degeneration.  You were met to move about with diversity; you were not met to be doing the same activity in the same position over time.  Any activity that puts you into continuous or sustained  flexion  will destroy your spinal health and, most importantly, your neurological health.

LACK OF SLEEP and or POOR BED/PILLOW SUPPORT IN BOTH SIDE OR PRONE POSITION:  You spend too much time in bed sleeping to do so on a bed that does not support your spine.  The spine needs rest where it is not working overtime to support itself because the bed continuously aggravates your spine.  You should be able to decompress and have a time off from compression; you need some break from gravity.  Sleeping in a chair will kill you overtime.  Being unable to sleep  deeply will provoke many health problems.  Sleeping on your stomach will destroy your spine.

CERTAIN INHERENT ANATOMICAL LIMITATIONS:  The most common problem seen is having scoliosis.  If it is at a certain degree, it will have a long term effect on your spine and health.  What one can tolerate in your youth, may be a problem when you are middle aged.  Other problems make it challenging to be as effective and balanced as one could be.  Often the C1 Atlas is fused to the occipital portion of the skull.  One will have some dysfunction in this region, but from your birth you learn to adjust accordingly.  It is less of a problem.  Some have a lower lumbar fused to the sacrum; these do have an effect, and generally overtime one could be less stable.  People have no control over these factors, but it is important to know that they have a challenge in their structure.  I am surprised to discover that we are often the first professionals to tell these people about these conditions;  it is often because earlier in their life they had no dysfunction or pain, and now they cannot understand why they do now.  Having a kyphosis or the hunching forward in the upper thoracic region which we associate with older women and men will challenge most.   Often I hear that their whole family had this problem.  I know only that it is difficult to deal with unless they deal with it early and aggressively through posture, strengthening and exercise. 

DEHYDRATION:  If you do not hydrate, you cannot have a healthy disks and joint capsules.  All other body functions require hydration for effective and essential function.  Age and medications dehydrate tissue.

COST:  Unfortunately, most effective treatments are not supported by health insurers so the costs for more physical and functional interventions can only be utilized by those with the time and resources.

SURGERY:  All surgeons make it clear that if they believe they need to fuse vertebral segments, greater stress will be placed on the surrounding freely moving joints. Six disc segments are needed in the cervical spine from C2-T1.  It is like 6 employees are needed to make the office work, but after a fusion of two segments, you now only have 4 employees working while two decided not to work.  You end up with 4 unhappy employees doing the work of 6 people, especially the ones that must work right next to them.  Also tissues are removed, attachments are disrupted, mechanoreceptors for neuro communication are gone, scars develop, less likely to bear weight, and disrupted vascular activity.  Your body thinks that your surgery is another injury that it must recover from.  It does not know that someone thought it was a well intended and organized procedure.  Surgeries are messy, and lead to problems like infection, corrective surgeries, and sometimes more pain and dysfunction.  It handicaps our ability to be as effective as we could be. Obviously, we celebrate the skills necessary to being saved from trauma, but even so, there are always long term negative effects from surgery.

You cannot live in a bubble, and our environment is hostile to our structure and more so if we have poor posture and certain anatomical limitations.  Be reasonable and consider the price you are paying and that is being paid by your loved ones.  Few regret things they did for enjoyment and self esteem; many, however, regret doing things that seemed as though it were forced on them or they were talked into it, or they had to do it to make a living.  Some regret not knowing the things they were doing were hurting themselves. Some people are just so unhappy that they continue to do things on short term they know are not good for them, such as unhealthy eating, drugs, and smoking; long term, it's lessening the quality of life.  Most all things you do have control over.

Here is the amazing thing; nearly all of our patients have these problems, and nearly all of our patients improve, become pain free, and recommend their friends.  Chiropractic can make that big of a difference.  As anyone would understand; however, correcting these factors can improve on the results.