Joint Hyper-mobility and Spinal ArthritisDegeneration

spinal arthritis In a previous article I discussed how abnormal motion of the spinal joints is a primary cause of joint degeneration. To briefly review,  the joints of the spine – including joint cartilage, ligaments, and muscles – are composed of living biological tissue and are under a continual state of tissue remodeling and reorganization. This adaptation is driven by the amount of stress placed on these spinal structures. When we have just the right amount of stress it stimulates the body to build stronger and healthier tissues.  However, if the stress falls outside of the normal physiological window (for example, if the stress is too much or too little) it can compromise the health of the tissue. The preceding article discussed how joint restriction and a lack of normal mobility of the spinal joints leads to tissue degeneration ( refer back to joint mobilization degeneration article for more information). This article will discuss how to much movement can cause joint damage and eventually lead to degenerative conditions of the spine such as spinal arthritis and degenerative disc disease.

The Healthy Spine

The spine consists of a series of block-like bones stacked atop of one another. A joint is formed between each of these bones allowing them to bend, flex, and twist on each other. The movement allowed by these joints makes the spine a moveable column. However, as the spine bends and twists it creates stress on the bones and joints. Under normal circumstances the overall movement of the back is evenly distributed between each bone/joint within the spinal column (in other words, a big bend in the spine is made up of several little bends in each of the individual spinal joints). This pattern of ‘shared-mobility’ allows the stress and strain associated with spinal movement to be evenly shared between all levels of the spine. Therefore the stress at any one bone or joint does not exceed the injury capacity.

The Link Between Joint Hyper-mobility and Spine Arthritis

Any disruption from this pattern of ‘shared mobility’ and normal joint motion of the spine function can lead to problems. It is common for the muscles and other soft tissues around the spinal joints to become tight and inflexible. This in turn will restrict the normal mobility of the joint. In the previous article we talked of how this reduction in joint mobility can lead to arthritic changes in the restricted joint itself. However, this joint joint restriction can also lead to stress and overload in other areas of the spine as it will force adjacent spinal joints to move more than normal in an effort to compensate for the joint restriction. This increase compensatory motion is associated with greater magnitudes of stress and strain. Just like a tire will wear out faster if a car’s alignment is off, if the spinal joint is forced to move beyond its normal physiological range for any extended period of time the cartilage and soft tissues surrounding joint will begin to break down.

spinal arthritis

Treating Spinal Arthritis with Cox Flexion-Distraction

Degenerative conditions of the spine can have a significant impact on pain as well as the ability to complete normal daily activities particularly as the population ages. For this reason,  ensuring the joints of the spine are able to move freely is a critical goal spine health. Not only will this help keep tight joints from breaking down, but will also prevent compensatory patterns of joint hyper-mobility from developing in adjacent joints.

We have found Cox Flexion-Distraction treatment to be one of the most effective and invaluable tools to not only treat spinal pain syndromes but also to maintain long-term health and range of motion of the spine.

If you are not familiar Cox Flexion Distraction here is how it works…

cox technique tableCox Flexion-Distraction treatment is a safe, effective, gentle, hands-on treatment method designed to restore normal motion and flexibility of tight and restricted spinal joints – including arthritic and degenerative joints.  Treatment is performed using a specially engineered treatment table that gently pulls and stretches the spine. With the patient lying face down on the table, either the headpiece or the lower portion of the table supporting the legs of the table can be slowly pulled down and away. (Which part of the table that moves is dependent upon which part of the spine is being treated). This motion lengthens the spine, which pulls the vertebrae away from each other and acts to gently stretch the spinal joints and surrounding soft tissue. While doing this the doctor is able to focus the stretch at the specific area the spine is restricted using a specific hand contact on the back or neck. Each decompression stretch is applied in a rhythmical push-pull action five or six times for a total of about 20 sec

Think Cox treatment may be right for your. Learn more by visiting our Cox Flexion-Distraction page [mini-icon icon=”arrow-right”]