By Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Fred Dideminico
Everything from standing upright, to sleeping, to going to the
bathroom is under direct control of the spinal column and the nervous
system it encases. Yet, not very much medical or media attention
is focused on sustaining this all-important area of the human body.
As a result of the neglect, abuse and poor focus both the spine
and nervous system receive, most people suffer greatly with the
results of deterioration in this area at some point in their lives.
Patients and doctors alike are under the misconception that once
a spinal condition exists -- including disc and nerve damage -- you
need surgery or are forced to live with pain, weakness and organ
malfunction for the rest of your life.
However, the truth behind today’s spinal treatments bears
that while the spine can easily degenerate, it can also regenerate.
Therefore, conditions once believed to be permanent can actually
be not only healed, but reversed.
To receive spinal regeneration, you must go to a chiropractor trained
in this area of spinal care. Similar to the medical field, chiropractic
has also become highly specialized. While the mass majority of chiropractors
today are essentially “general practitioners,” certain
doctors of chiropractic have higher levels of training in neurology
and spinal correction as well as pediatrics, pregnancy and over
all health and wellness.
A View From the Inside
A review of published literature indicates that the upright adult
spine loses up to 20 mm (slightly more than 3/4 inch) of vertical
height each day due to loss of fluid from the disc. The sleep cycle
allows the unloaded discs to regain most, but not all, of their
fluid and height by the reabsorption of fluid surrounding the discs
Since all the fluid and disc height is not regained, the spine
becomes shorter starting around age 30. It is common to lose up
to 2 inches of stature by age 60 due to the loss of disc fluid.
In addition, loss of disc fluid and height compromise spinal form
and function with lateral and rotatory postural deviations of the
hips and shoulders (Kapandji, 1974).
The discs are comprised of 88 percent water. Proper hydration is
essential for nourishment, lubrication and function of all joint
cartilages, tendons, ligaments and spinal discs’ nutrition
delivery and waste elimination. When the body dehydrates, it pulls
water out of the “white tissues” first, meaning the ligaments
and tendons of the body (i.e. vertebral discs). If the body continues
to dehydrate, the body will pull water next out of the organs, eventually
the brain and then you will die.
A loss of only 12 percent of the water out of the disc will reduce
the disc height by 50 percent.
Surprisingly, the loss of 1 mm of height in a cervical disc and
1.4 mm loss of height in the lumbar disc will cause the same amount
of neurological compression and IVF encroachment equal to an 8-degree
rotation. (It takes a 3-degree rotation to cause IVF encroachment
and neurological compromise). So you can see that it doesn’t
take much water loss in the body to start affecting your discs and
the function of your nervous system.
How does the water get lost? Between ages 12-14, the spinal discs’
blood nutrition supply and waste elimination system atrophies. That
means the discs will have to receive their necessary water, nutrients
and waste elimination from osmosis and imbibation (intersegmental
motion of the spinal vertebrae that pump fluids, nutrients and waste
in and out of the discs).
This becomes a challenge because, as people get older, they may
become more sedentary, develop advancing spinal and postural degenerative
conditions and ultimately lose the intersegmental motion of their
spine. Once they lose this motion, the discs quickly dehydrate and
lose height. This leads to IVF encroachment and chronic pain syndromes
that soon advance to visceral and organic conditions leading to
Chiropractors involved with spinal correction and rehabilitation
can detect levels of disc degeneration and correct spinal displacements
that are causing IVF encroachment, thus allowing the nervous system
to function optimally and keep the body healthy. Until recently,
it had been thought, once a disc was degenerated and lost height
it could not be restored. It had also been thought that loss of
disc height could not be prevented. These assumptions are no longer
Can the intervertebral discs rehydrate and regenerate? The discs
need three things to regenerate:
Let’s look at the first two for now.
Research has shown, if we can create loading and unloading cycles
in the spine, we can literally “suck” water back into
the disc and rehydrate it predictably. So what are loading and unloading
cycles? Loading and unloading cycles are consecutive alternating
compression and traction movements. Repetitive traction (elongation)
followed by compression of the discs produce “imbibation and
osmosis” of water into the disc rehydrating or regenerating
the disc height.
In addition to disc rehydration, the loading and unloading cycles
reduce up to 95 percent of the elastic energy in the spine. The
soft tissues have an inherent elastic, rebound energy and reflexes
that return the body to its original position after a trauma. This
elastic energy must be reduced if we are to achieve spinal correction.
The loading and unloading cycles that reduce the elastic energy
of the body is called hysteresis.
Hysteresis is essential for spinal correction because the structure
of the spine is controlled by the soft tissues, the shape of the
discs. The discs are like a hard Jell-O. They have a lot of tensile
strength and a lot of rebound, elastic energy.
When a force is applied to the spine to change the structure, the
elastic properties will rebound against that force and the hard
Jell-O consistency of the disc will continue to maintain the current
spinal structure. Hysteresis, repetitive traction and compression
cycles liquefy the Jell-O like consistency, reduce the rebound energy
by up to 95 percent and decrease muscle spasms to help the doctor
achieve an easier adjustment as well as rehydrating the disc.
When the spine is soft, it is easier to mold the spine into a new
structure. The newly liquefied disc will require 16-20 minutes to
harden like Jell-O again. Once the spine is adjusted and the structure
is corrected, the spine can be molded and hardened into its new
The Pettibon System
For this reason, pre-adjustment warm-ups become essential for spinal
correction and regeneration. The Pettibon System is a chiropractic
system that can do this predictably. Here are some of the benefits
of loading and unloading cycles.
The avascular discs ligaments and tendons are nourished and
metabolic wastes are eliminated.
The visco-elastic properties of the discs, ligaments and tendons
that hold the vertebral units out of their normal position are
progressively less resistant to spinal corrective adjusting.
Up to 95 percent of the force needed to adjust or manipulate
is reduced by these repetitive cycles.
Rehydrate the disc and increase disc height.
Increase disc and tendon strength.
Decrease the potential for injury or severity of injury from
sudden applied forces.
Lubrication for spinal joints and nourishment for their cartilage.
Prevention of adhesions during healing and improved joint
integrity of healed joints.
Development for “core” basis for further strength,
endurance and agility training.
Rehabilitative exercise is an extremely valuable tool to aid
the doctor in the management of both acute and chronic musculoskeletal
The Pettibon Chiropractic program is a program that offers a cervical
decompressive type of tractioning along with a lumbar motion device
designed to restore spinal curvatures and bring motion and fluid
back to the cervical and lumbar discs. The safety and effectiveness
of this type of program are far superior to any type of surgery.
Any time you can avoid surgical
intervention or drugs, you are far better off.
When accompanied with the right nutrients and additional exercises
shown to you by your corrective care chiropractor, all of the elements
necessary for spinal regeneration are there. At any age, with any
level of degeneration, the potential for some degree of correction
and healing is possible.
Dr. Ben Lerner, along with Dr. Greg Loman, owns Teach
The World About Chiropractic, a Chiropractic training company.
They have helped build the largest spinal correction clinics in
the history of Chiropractic.