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Sydney Chiropractor Tells the Tooth About Your Spine and Disc Hernia

Did it happen to you? Or someone you know? The quote from the dentist to do a root canal and crown to relieve your pain comes in at $3000. Oops!When I have heard this it was usually for someone who didn't maintain the health of their teeth with their dentist regularly. It's unfortunate for them but that $3,000 could have bought 10+ years of going to the dentist regularly to prevent the problem. And as a Sydney chiropractor, I am interested in people having their best health, so of course I personally go and recommend people to see a good dentist regularly - but what about your spine? Is it the same scenario with chiropractic?

Unlike your teeth your spine never gets to rest, there is postural strain when you sit, walk or run, there can be massive loads in your spine when lifting and especially sports strains the back a lot... even when lying down you put strain in your spine! There is no doubt the mechanics of the spine is more complex than your teeth and can be much more trouble prone. The results can be spondylosis of the vertebra, osteoarthritis in the facet joints, disc tear, disc prolapse or herniation, spinal stenosis, nerve compression, joint sprains etc etc etc. And like dentisty, chiropractic not only helps once there is a definite problem but chiropractic is best used before injury in a preventative healthcare model. As Arnold Schwarzenegger says "Body builders and fitness people have been using chiropractic extensively in order to stay healthy and fit. I found it was better to go to a chiropractor before you get injured."

So When Should you See Your Chiropractor in Sydney for Your Spinal Health?

Well probably see a chiropractor today if you haven't seen one before but unfortunately even if you are not symptomatic the statistics show it may already be too late to prevent damage.The percentage of people with impaired neurological function or organic damage who do not exhibit symptoms may be staggeringly high. Using MRI technology, one study of 98 asymptomatic people [1] found that:

64% didn't have normal discs at all levels of the spine, 52% had a minor disc herniation at each level and 27% had a significant disc herniation.

In another study, this time of 67 individuals who had never had low back pain or radicular pain[2]: 

MRI showed that disc hernias were present in 20% of those under 60 years of age and 36% in the over-60 year old group

Even though you feel good and fine, there is a fair chance you will have disc injury diagnosis when you go your chiropractor. The catch is that you probably never felt the disc bulge or herniate and unless you had your spine imaged, then you certainly wouldn't have seen it (unlike being able to see your teeth in the mirror). Hints of damage may have been in your past from whiplash in bicycle falls, motorbike crashes or car accidents, a significant episode of back pain, waking up with a stiff neck or sore spine occasionally, having a job like a labour worker or nurse and also if you played sports like hockey, rugby or rowing. You can't get a new spine but you can work to prevent the damage worsening by deteriorating down the "degenerative cascade" that orthopaedic surgeons describe in surgery text books. This is where, when left untreated, a vertebrae decays to have thin discs, bone spurs / spondylosis and eventually it continues towards fusion of the vertebrae.While not every disc bulge or herniation ends up in surgery, the tens of thousands of dollars that easily occur for spinal surgery helps to put the tens of dollars regularly spent at the chiropractor into perspective. Seeing your chiropractor regularly (it could be 1, 2, 3 or 4 times per month) is an investment in managing your spine just as seeing your dentist once or twice a year is an investment in managing your teeth. The expertise of the chiropractor revolves around the spine and the nervous system within it, just as the expertise of the dentist revolves around the teeth and the gums and bone around it. They are both models for preventative healthcare that are a neccessity for quality of life in an aging population.

Chiropractic is Preventative Healthcare in Sydney

That's why chiropractors are becoming more involved in community health, as this preventative health care to help avoid unnecessary spinal damage occuring in the first place. And more importantly, chiropractors want to improve your spinal health because it is heavily integrated with your nervous system (which is the part of your body that makes the rest of your body work - that's kind of important!). So the better your spinal function, the better your nervous system function can be and when your nervous system is able to control everything in your body, you have the foundation for wellness. But I'll write about that another time.

Fill in your details on our forms link below even if you don't have an injury but want to find out if there is something you are missing in your healthcare. We work hard to be the best chiropractor in Sydney for you.

(1) Jenson MC, Brant ZM, Obuchowski N, Modic MT, Malaksian D, Ross JS: "Magnetic resonance imaging of the lumbar spine in people without back pain." New England Journal of Medicine, 1994; 331: 69-73
(2) Boden SC, Davis DO, Dina TS, Patronas NJ, Wiesel SW: "Abnormal magnetic-resonance scans of the lumbar spine in asymptomatic subjects." Bone joint Surg [Am] 1990; 72: 403-408.

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  • […] In an earlier blog you would have read how up to 64% of asymptomatic people have a disc injury witho…. That’s the equivalent of having a cavity in one of your teeth and not knowing about it. One factor for this is poor posture. If you ever had your mother tell you to stand up straight then she would have been helping you prevent this even if her main desire was for you to be more attractive. But does ‘trying’ to stand up straight work? Not really, as your poor posture is more a reflection of unhealthy spinal mechanics  than laziness. So what can you do about it? […]

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