Spinal degeneration refers to a degeneration of either the vertebra (the boney portion of the spine), the intervertebral disc (which is between most of the vertebrae in the spine), or both . In the video, you will see a model of vertebra located in the low back. There is a top vertebra, then the intervertebral disc, and then another vertebra that sits below the disc. You will also see examples of the spinal cord and the spinal nerve roots.
For purposes of understanding pain as it relates to spinal degeneration, it’s important to understand that all the spinal nerve roots in the low back go into the low back, buttocks and legs, and all the spinal nerve roots in the neck go into the arms and the upper back. So what you’ve got is the potential for a lot of what we call radicular or referred pain when spinal segments start to degenerate.
The intervertebral disc can be said to resemble a “jelly donut.” It has a hard outer layer (the annulus fibrosis), and a gelatinous core (the nucleus pulposus). Stress placed on the disc from an accident, or from poor posture for example, can result in a “bulging” or “herniated” disc.
With spinal degeneration you may get deformities in the vertebra, but very often what you see first is deformation of the intradiscal material, usually toward the back of the body. For example, an individual who is doing a lot of sitting and slouching, could place a lot of compression on the front of the spine, pinching the front of the vertebra together. When that happens, the nucleus or jelly portion of the disc starts to migrate backwards, placing an enormous amount of stretch stress on the back portion of the spine, ultimately causing the spinal cord to be compressed (see the video on this page). The bulge can also go off to one side or another, hitting the nerve roots on either side. This is the more common scenario. If the disc is bulging in the low back, it can result in pain anywhere from the low back to the buttocks, to the hip, to the groin, down the thigh, down the leg, and into the foot. These pain patterns are referred to as “radiating pain” or “sciatica.” If the disc is bulging in the neck, it could result in headache pain, pain in the upper shoulders, upper back, or anywhere on the arm or hand.
There are many ways to treat a bulging or herniated disc: Exercise therapies utilizing McKenzie treatment protocols, strengthening exercises, chiropractic manipulative techniques, and the DRX9000™ can all be utilized in the course of treatment, as needed. While the McKenzie protocols and strengthening exercises can be performed by you and can be very effective, some people need more help. The DRX9000™ is a state of the art spinal decompression machine. When receiving a treatment, the spine is allowed to slowly but surely increase the space between the vertebrae, creating a negative gravity or vacuum effect which decreased the bulging and helps restore the intervertebral disc to a more healthy, natural, homeostatic, non-impinging state. Treatments are very comfortable, and studies have shown it to be over 85% effective for decreasing pain and increasing disc space.