Wouldn’t it be nice if you could look into a mirror and see all of your health problems? Do you have crooked teeth? You are probably going to schedule a consultation with an orthodontist. Is there a new mole on your forehead? Maybe you should consider calling a dermatologist. Unfortunately, not all of your problems are visible in a mirror. For example, your spine may be wearing down and you would never know it. I believe many people would seek out conservative care for their spine if they could see how bad it looks on a regular basis. Abnormal spinal alignment leads to degeneration, chronic pain, and eventually may progress to the point of requiring surgery. Is it possible that many of these problems are preventable with routine spine care? A lot of evidence seems to suggest so.
What does normal alignment of the spine look like?
Many people are familiar with normal body temperature and blood pressure. We know that if we hover around 120/80 mm hg, then our blood pressure is within normal range. What happens if we do an objective exam and see our blood pressure is 200/160? We know that something is really wrong, and if we don’t act now we may have a stroke, kidney damage, heart problems and more down the road!
Fortunately, because of research in recent years, we can finally objectively measure the spine to determine if a patient has problems. There are now measurable normal values for your cervical angle, lumbar angle, head position and more. As you move away from what is acceptable, you may develop a number of symptoms, or secondary conditions. Some of these include:
- Chronic pain
- Degenerated vertebral discs and bones
- Herniated discs
What causes our spine to shift away from normal?
The answer involves predominantly two factors. One of these factors involves accidents. When you were younger and more resilient, you could fall out of a tree and laugh it off. Your body bounces back quick before you age. However, what happens if the fall affects your spine and you aren’t able to look into a mirror and see it? The phrase “as the twig bends, so grows the tree” is a personal favorite of mine. Basically, things that occur early in life can affect you later down the road. Small problems can progress over time if left uncorrected.
Another major factor are our daily lifestyles. For one, prolonged sitting is one of the worst things on the planet for you and the majority of Americans do it frequently. Sitting for long periods of time shifts your spine out of normal alignment. Another lifestyle issue involves our dependence on technology. Repeatedly looking at your tablet, cell phone, computer screen, etc. progressively leads to anterior head syndrome – which can progress from text neck. There are more contributing factors that may progressively lead to abnormal alignment of your spine, but the above two are the major ones I see regularly.
What can we do?
What happens if your examination reveals you are nowhere near the accepted normal? There is some good news – conservative spinal care is frequently enough to stabilize your spine and guide it back toward normal! A customized plan of care from a chiropractic practice that focuses on Structural Correction of the spine is a good start. These plans aim to counter the damage frequently seen during the exam.
They will require you to do homework, however, in conjunction with the correction that takes place in the clinic. This is because most of the damage to your spine is occurring outside the walls of a Structural Chiropractor’s office. It would be like going to the gym then eating 12 doughnuts – you basically offset what you have done! Another exam will be conducted after a stabilizing phase of care to make sure you are progressing toward normal. After all, if you can’t see progress, how do you know it is there?
Fortunately, technology and research continues to evolve with time. We can now differentiate from normal and abnormal alignment of the spine. This is great news, because if an examination reveals abnormal findings we can address them before they progress to chronic pain, degenerated vertebral bones, herniated discs and more. If you think you may suffer from abnormal alignment, I recommend an examination by a chiropractor that focuses on Structural Correction. Hopefully your exam is negative. However, if it isn’t, at least you can address the problem early on and not let it progress. After all, you only have one spine – you need to take care of it.