WAYNE M. FICHTER JR.: Spinal degeneration risk factors

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Spinal degeneration is a condition when your discs start to become dehydrated, causing cracks to the outer layer, which can lead to a bulge or a rupture. As we age, the discs in our spine start to naturally break down due to normal, everyday living. The end result of disc degeneration is typically pain. As more pressure is put on the spinal column, it can also affect other areas of your body as nerves become impinged, making treating of this issue a must for a higher quality of life.

A recent study from three different universities, Mie University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan, Osaka University (also in Japan), and Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois was published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders on Nov. 9, 2015. The researchers followed 197 individuals living in Miyagawa, Japan who were over the age of 65. The researchers measured their disc height every 2 years over a 10 year span. Their goal was to determine what factors, if any, contributed to their spinal discs degeneration.

The research discovered, over the 10 year span, the 197 individuals disc height gradually reduced by an average of 5.8 percent, with roughly 55 percent experiencing degeneration in one or two of their discs. Evidence showed that there were three factors that were identified that raised the chances of disc degeneration. They were: 1) being female, 2) having radiographic knee osteoarthritis, and 3) the presence of low back pain when the study began.

Based on the study, women should take extra precaution to help protect their discs, potentially preventing themselves from experiencing neck or back pain later in life. Some suggestions for preventing degeneration include chiropractic care, maintain a healthy weight, adequate water intake, and not smoking. Studies have shown that smokers tend to experience disc degeneration at higher rates than non-smokers. One study published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation has found that chiropractic care provides a quick recovery in patients with spinal degeneration.

One of the most modern ways to treat degenerative disc disease is also one of the least invasive. Spinal decompression, which is a non-Invasive, non-surgical means of helping restore the disc back to a healthier state, has successfully helped thousands of patients with disc degeneration, sciatica, and bulging disc reduce pain levels to achieve a higher quality of life.

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Dr. Wayne M. Fichter Jr. is a chiropractor at Natural Spine Solutions. The business is located at 3913 Schreiber Way in Coeur d’Alene, 208-966-4425.

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