Name any disease or health problem and most of the literature will tell you to catch it early and your chances for recovery and a full return to health are much better. The spine is no exception. Untreated, subluxations of the spine become more severe and will progress and lead to Spinal Degeneration. Doctors of chiropractic have identified four stages of spinal degeneration. Notice in the descriptions that symptoms and pain do not appear until Phase II.
The first stage of spinal degeneration- there is a minor loss of normal spine alignment and spinal curvature. The surrounding features of the spine such as nerves, discs and joints begin to thin and age quicker and are continually more stressed. This stage of the degeneration process rarely is accompanied with any major pain. At this point, there is a good chance that with the proper care, you can return to normal.
In the second stage of spinal degeneration, there is often narrowing of the discs and potentially deformation in the bones. Your posture is often beginning to degenerate as well at this point. As the spinal canal, or opening begins to narrow, there are often significant aches and pains associated. Fatigue and stress are more common at this stage. There is a good chance of improvement at this stage with the proper care.
In the third stage of spinal degeneration, there is significant physical and neurological involvement due to the level wear here. There is nerve damage as well as permanent deformation of the bones and discs. There would be a significant loss of energy and height at this point. Some reversal is possible, but not total.
In the fourth stage of spinal degeneration, most damage is permanent including scar tissue, nerve damage and lack of spinal function. At this point, the condition is irreversible. Management of pain and discomfort is the best option here.