a.k.a. Osteoarthritis, Degenerative Joint Disease, Degenerative Spine Disease, Vertebral Degeneration...
keywords: Spondylosis, Arthrosis, Spurs, Osteopthytes, Facet Hypertrophy, Facet joint disease, Thin Disk
The typical vertebrae articulate with one another with a fibrocartilaginous intervertebral disk and a pair of facet joints whose surfaces are covered with cartilage. Cartilage is a tough material that cushions and protects the ends of the bones. Ligament is connective tissue that holds two bones together.
Degeneration starts when the cartilage or ligament is damaged.
When the spine deviates from its normal position, as in postural imbalance, the load is displaced to the part of the joint that is not supposed to take that much of compression and strain. The prolonged mechanical stress, leads to premature wear and tear of the cartilage of the intervertebral discs and the facet joints. The result is similar to what happens in an acute traumatic joint injury.
The repair capacity of cartilage and ligament is limited as they do not have their own blood supply, they get their nutrients indirectly from the surrounding tissues. If damaged, they are difficult to heal, and only be replaced by scar tissue. Joint degeneration begins when the degradation exceeds the regeneration.
Although the incidence of degeneration increases with age, it is not caused by age. As the regenerative ability of the tissues decreases as one gets older, mild joint problem easily progresses to degeneration. The severity of degeneration also reflects on how long the problem exist.
By the time degeneration is observed on the x-ray, it must have been there for many years. Would the patients have pain all these years? Most probably they would not.
Cartilage has no nerve supply (it is aneural). Many people have the cartilage damaged and don't even know about it.
All through the degenerative process, the body is adjusting its position to avoid stress on the problem joints. As the condition advances, the body runs out of its ability to compensate, then the pain-sensitive tissues, like the capsule, ligaments, tendons and the surface of bone, are irritated, and pain occurs.
The Upper Cervical Care promotes better postural balance. When the body is balanced, the abnormal stress on the degenerated joint is reduced. The irritation of pain-sensitive tissues is decrease and so is the pain.