In reference to the spectrum of spinal degeneration, phase 3 is the critical point. Phase 1 and 2 have shown progressing signs such as loss of disc heights and changing of the ideal spinal curves. When you reach the point of phase 3 there are distinct changes to the structure of the vertebrae and soft tissues.
As chiropractic providers we are concerned about a number of issues when a patient has reached this point on the degeneration spectrum. Number one is compromising factors to the nervous system. With structure changes to the vertebrae such as bone spurs, loss of vertebral body height, stenosis and facet joint arthrosis we can expect nerve irritation and long term damage to the nerves exiting the spinal column. Number two is loss of biomechanical function.
Advanced degenerative changes that accompany phase 3 will limit range of motion and produce extra stress to the spinal joints due to improper movement. Improper joint movement causes excess stress to be applied to the joint complexes and in turn creates a snowballing effect to further degenerative changes to the body. Below is a list of common findings associated with phase 3 spinal degeneration:
Loss of normal spinal curvature
Bone spur formation with possible joint fusions
Permanent loss of range of motion
Loss of disc height and function (irreversible)
Increased nerve damage
Muscle pain in back, shoulders, arms and legs
Muscle atrophy and weakness
Severe headaches and fatigue
The best recommendation for a patient with phase 3 degeneration is consistent chiropractic care. Consistent care will help with decreased muscle spasm, fatigue, headaches and pain while increasing the range of motion that has been lost. Patients with this diagnosis need to be aware they are at a manage care point. Most structural changes that have occurred to this point are now irreversible. The key to managing this diagnosis is living healthier lifestyle and being aware of what needs to be done to keep you from a surgical intervention. If you are experiencing pain, headaches, radiating pain, numbness, tingling or burning you need to seek a provider. If you have any questions regarding how our doctors can help please call to schedule your appointment, 763-316-5252.