Quality of life is influenced by the ability to move freely. Spinal joint degeneration decreases the ability to move without restriction, thus diminishing quality of life. One of the primary theories surrounding the benefits of a chiropractic adjustment is the increased mobility of a spinal joint, making it less susceptible to degeneration. This research dating back to the mid-1980’s evaluated the effects of hypo-mobility in a joint, and its influence on musculoskeletal function. The findings of this study clearly demonstrate the value of a mobile spinal joint. The results were as follows:

  • Whenever periarticular structures experience immobilization, the process does not affect articular cartilage only. Instead the whole joint is involved.
  • Immobilization is one of the pathogenic factors in musculoskeletal degeneration.
  • It is beyond a reasonable doubt that immobilization is not only a cause of osteoarthritis, but that it delays the healing process.
  • If immobilization (irrespective of its cause) cannot be avoided, it would be therapeutically logical to take every possible step to limit its extent and duration.
  • When the adverse effects of immobilization have already become apparent, the earlier they are treated the better.
  • Rest and immobilization are not satisfactory forms of treatment for osteoarthritis. (IMPORTANT)
  • During the first month of immobilization, there is an increase in periarticular fibrosis.
  • Experimental studies show that after two weeks of immobilization, x-ray changes are seen that include joint space narrowing, subchondral sclerosis, and osteophyte formation.
  • A consistent finding caused by joint immobilization is capsular thickening, which leads to even greater degrees of immobilization.
  • Importantly, rapid increase in exercise following immobilization can accelerate adverse effects. (IMPORTANT TO NOTE)
  • After trauma, some immobilization is indicated, especially in the absence of stability following injury.
  • When the intervertebral disc is immobilized in animals, disc narrowing, and marginal osteophytes appeared in a

    matter of months.

  • The evidence presented in this review shows that immobilizing healthy joints in experimental animals can lead to

    osteoarthritis.

  • It can be postulated that immobilization will initiate a pathogenic chain of musculoskeletal degenerative changes.
  • The evidence reviewed in this study shows very clearly that early mobilization is essential.

    Decades ago, Doctors and researchers constantly disagreed on the amount of time it takes for an improperly moving joint to experience the effects of irreversible damage. It was settled in the mid-1980’s when this study came out which showed irreversible damage occurring after just two weeks of joint immobilization witnessed through x-ray findings. Though many more of its kind have been done, this research is still relevant today. It helps lay the groundwork for why maintenance chiropractic care is essential to lower the risk of unnecessary degeneration due to subluxation. Like tooth decay, the first stages of spinal degeneration can occur without any signs or symptoms. Regular chiropractic checkups and adjustments help provide mobility and stability to the spine to prevent degeneration from occurring. An increased quality of life through greater mobility is one of the many benefits of regular on-going chiropractic care with or without the presence of pain.