What kind of things can go wrong in our backs that cause us to have a sore back or back pain? How do we know when to leave the problem alone, so that it can heal itself, or when to see a doctor about our sore back? The answers to these questions inspire strong debate among the medical community.
By the time we have reached our mid 20s, our bodies are fully grown and our spinal column will have reached its full size. Almost immediately from the point that our spines and body's do reach full size, it "begins to degenerate" as is commonly used by doctors and other medical professionals. The rate of degeneration is slow around the point when we reach our physical peak; and the process begins to speed up as we get older.
Though the words degenerate, degeneration, or degenerative feel ominous, the word simply means that this is the point in human development where the rate that our healthy cells are being produced becomes slower than the rate at which unhealthy cells become worn out and become reabsorbed by the body. The word degenerate is simply the opposite of the word generate, which means growth.
When we are born, and as we mature towards adulthood, our bones grow along their growth lines (epiphyseal plates) and the other tissues and organs of our body develop as well, as our body is able to create new cells at a faster rate than the old cells become worn out or damaged. After maturity, however, the process reverses, ever so slightly, where less new bone and tissue is produced than the rate at which it is destroyed.
Though the word degeneration is difficult to hear when it has been used in a label to describe your problem, the important thing to know is that it happens to all people, including the ones that have no physical limitations or back pain. If you were to pull 10 people, who don't report any back pain symptoms, off the streets, and subjected them to the same diagnostic tests use to diagnose your degenerative disease, chances our 3 of them would also present with a "degenerative" disease on an X-Ray, CT, or MRI.
When you are in front of a doctor, words like degeneration and degenerative may be used to describe degenerative disc disease, arthritis of the facet joints, and damage to the ligaments of the spine. Unfortunately, most of these degenerative changes to the back are irreversible. Fortunately, though the cause of many anatomical problems with our backs is irreversible, your symptoms do not have to continue. While degenerative diseases and degenerative processes may be the cause of your sore back or severe back pain, it doesn't have to dominate the way of life and the way you feel in the future. Typically, even acute back pain caused by degenerative disease is usually temporary, and most patients will begin feel better as your body adjusts to these changes in your body. If your body does not adjust, and you continue to experience chronic back pain, treatments available may include physical therapy, prolotherapy, and spinal manipulation.