I’ve seen 1,000’s of X-rays showing joints in different stages of their life. Joints can be infected, attacked by an autoimmune disease, but most commonly, wear out due to abuse. I call these “smoking joints”. They don’t look particularly smoldering on X-Ray (unless you use a little clipart magic). But, during my years of chiropractic education I was able to see first hand, in the cadavers I dissected, how years of neglect can cause spinal joints irreparable damage. Their previously rubber-like surfaces were worn to the point that all that was left were two deformed bones rubbing together. Like brake pads worn to the nub, these joints never got that care they needed to stay healthy. Were some of these “smoking joints” also really old joints? Absolutely! But, the same body would hold 24 spinal joints, all the same age, but at clearly different stages of “smokiness”.
Here’s how joints become “smoking joints”.
A joint can become injured quickly like in football when after a play, the tight-end’s foot is left facing the wrong direction.
Or, a joint can suffer repeated small injuries like at a job where the same motion is repeat over and over again. Regardless, the injury causes a scar, or many tiny scars to accumulate around the joint.
Scars restrict the joint’s movement. Movement is how the joint gets nutrition in and waste out. So, without circulation, the joint’s cells die and get replaced by more scar tissue.
The smooth rubber-like joint surfaces and bungee cord ligaments slowly become sharp jagged rock surfaces grinding together, and tough gristle-like ligaments.
The technical name for this process is “degenerative joint disease”. In the spine, this process is especially dangerous because it can lead to disc herniation and other complications involving the spinal cord and nerves.
Chiropractic keeps joints moving and flexible. Adjustments, exercise and a healthy diet can all aid in putting out the fire on “smoking joints”, so they last longer than you do; not the other way around.
If you are suffering from arthritis, call my office for a free consultation or visit us online.
Dr. Aaron L. Wiegand,DC,CCST