Our human body is made to move. We have a resilient frame and structure that is designed to heal and strengthen. There is a phrase used commonly known as “wear and tear”, but I like to refer to this instead as “wear and repair”. It may seem like a knit-picky distinction, but for my patients it is an empowering distinction.

When I read imaging reports and see degenerative changes, my first thought is not that this person is fragile. Instead, I view these as “wrinkles of the spine”, and part of the normal aging process. Most human bodies after the age of 35 will show some evidence of degeneration in joints and tissue, as this is the natural “wear and repair” process the body goes through.

Much of the pain people experiencing in their lower back are not from specific part of their body like a disc or a joint that is hurting, but the compensation of movement, guarding of movement, fear or avoidance of activity, weaknesses associated with the pain and other factors that are causing the brain to generate pain that restricts one’s ability and function.

In a research article looking at the imaging findings of those with no back pain, 80% of people aged 50 and older were found to have degenerative changes to their discs, with 60% also having a disc bulge present.1 Again, all cases were pain free for this study.

My takeaway from this is that you cannot judge someone’s condition simply by an imaging report, and I greatly caution my patients in overanalyzing their results. Instead, I look to reinforce positive patient education, retrain efficient movement in the body, and empower my patients to become resilient in their own lives. At Oregon Sports and Family Chiropractic we use a forward thinking and modern approach, and use a combination of pain relieving treatment and exercise therapy and training to restore quality movement and function, and live a life with less pain. No matter the condition, our goal is to help you “move well, live well!”

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