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To Your Health

Another Benefit of Aging (yeah right)

06/01/2011 - Howdy,

I tried to come up with a snappy title for this month's article but it has to deal with another factor about aging so it could have been called "getting old is not for wimps". But I guess this is another installment of that title.

This month's article is regarding something that I have seen a little more frequently called "adult onset degenerative scoliosis". This is a condition that basically can afflict us from more than one cause. In previous articles I have written regarding sitting and not slouching, I was trying to influence many of you not to do this as it will result in your spine bending and twisting, which can be a factor in this condition, but also other things can happen that may trigger it.

One is trauma. If a person has a significant trauma to their spine resulting in ligament damage, this may over time result in the spine deforming because of the loss of integrity. Back operations or procedures may cause this. The area above or below the surgical site will have increased loads and strains and the area could be losing integrity, resulting in a person's spine starting to lean. It does not mean that the surgery made you worse. This is what can happen even if the surgery is correct. Or the eventual -- our discs wear out at multiple sites resulting in the whole region losing integrity and we start slumping over or to the side.

This will create pain syndromes that can be complicated to solve since it can be on multiple levels as well as affect other areas of our body. In a study done in the 1920s a researcher noted a connection from diseased organs to the levels of the spine that had degenerative discs and osteoarthritis. At the time this was a great paper that reinforced what chiropractors did back 80 plus years ago. These research studies are still true today. However it is now way more complicated and I am getting offtrack here.

How it affects other parts of the body is this: If you're leaning to the left (origin being your lower back) it can affect your neck since your body has to shift to compensate for being off normal alignment. This may cause the neck to bend in the opposite direction resulting in stresses to the neck vertebrae and muscles and ligaments. How do you know if you have this condition? Some patients will tell me that they have noted they look crooked or that someone has told them their posture has worsened in the past months.

Now you're asking, "Is it fixable?" Yes, to a point. This condition needs to be evaluated in terms of causes, what form the body is now in, limiting factors such as age, surgeries, damage to ligaments, and habits. ("Here we go again, Honey. He is calling me out on me sitting on my legs.)

It should also be pointed out that it is not easy and does not get quickly resolved. It can be months. It can take years. It may not get corrected at all, but it can be slowed down. And you may be working on your home program the rest of your life. But you need to see someone who can recognize it, understand what is going on, develop the right pattern to help the body halt the progression and then start you on the road to change.

Taking care of your body is a full time job and you are going to have to take responsibility -- not the doctor (they can't do the exercises for you), nor the government (they're broke). Now I have to get off my duff! I have slumped over this computer long enough and I am going to stretch my back and to play some golf or fish. See ya in the fall!

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