A "head forward" position is one of the most common contributing factors that cause degenerative disc disease and prevent recovery. The weight of the head is carried by the cervical discs and facet joints when in the balanced position. A head-forward position transfers the load from the facet joints to the discs. The muscles at the back of the neck go into tension to prevent the head from tilting farther forward. This muscle tension is an added load on the discs. It can double or triple the compression load on the discs. The resulting thinning of the discs under the added constant compression load reduces the clearance space for nerve roots that exit from the spinal cord between the vertebrae near the back of the neck on either side. The pinched nerve roots cause pain and tingling in the hands and fingers or other areas. This is a "catch-22" situation. Now the head cannot be raised into the balanced position without increased pain. Elderly people can be seen walking with an extremely head-forward posture as a result of disc thinning. The entire program presented here enables the discs to increase in thickness and hydration, thereby relieving the pressure on the nerve roots. A proper posture is possible again after the pain has been reduced. The improved posture aids in hydration of the discs, and the downward spiral into degenerative disc disease is reversed.Walking Posture - The treatment present here will allow the sufferer of degenerative disc disease to improve his posture by walking in a more upright manner. The shoulders should be back and the head upright. The head and upper body forward posture must be eliminated by a strong conscious effort. Poor posture is a bad habit that must be broken by strong determination. The treatment presented here allows a return to proper posture without the pain that caused the poor posture in the first place. Walk with the eyes looking straight toward the horizon, not down toward the toes or ground. Look for obstacles well ahead and glance downward only for a moment when necessary to navigate the obstacle. Walking down stairs is a special case where bending slightly forward and focusing the eyes on the steps is more important. In daily activity the head should be upright with the eyes focused toward the horizon, the back straight and the shoulders back. Do not walk along with the head and shoulders slumped forward while looking at the ground.Sitting Posture - A person should sit with the hips against the back of the chair, the head upright, and the shoulders back. The chair back should be sloped backward at an angle of 3 to 4 inches in 12 inches. This can be measured by standing a large book vertically on the chair seat with the bottom of the book spine against the back of the chair. Measure up 12 inches and measure the gap between the book and the back of the chair. A chair back that is too vertical is bad because the user must sit with the hips forward, a curve in the lumbar area of the back, and the head bent forward. Slumping in a chair is another common example of a poor sitting posture and a bad habit. A conscious effort must be made to sit properly. Purchase new furniture that allows proper sitting posture and dispose of furniture that harms the sitting posture.General Posture - Many activities are generally done with the body bent forward and the head down. These activities must be changed or stopped. Stand up straight and look at the wall while showering and dressing. Don't slump over reading material, laptop computers, sewing, cooking, crafts, or hobbies. Special computer glasses may be needed to keep those with progressive bifocals from tilting the head backward. The glasses should be made with the distance vision measured from your eyes to the computer screen. The progressive bifocal distance would be your normal book reading distance. Television watching posture is also very important. Move the television up on a stand or entertainment center so viewing can be done by looking well ahead or horizontally. Always be aware of your posture to make corrections. Observe your posture continually throughout the day in order to correct bad posture habits.Sleeping Posture - The posture in bed can be bad even though the person is sleeping on a very good mattress as described below. Never sleep in a fetal position with the body curled forward and the head in a forward position while sleeping on one's side. A conscious effort must be made to keep the back straight or slightly concaved. Lay on one side and bend the spine backward as far as it will go comfortably. Bend the neck back also so the entire spine is concave, not forward. Relax in this position as is comfortable until you go to sleep. Turn over in the night to the other side and repeat the procedure. The head should be placed on the pillow with the neck straight above the shoulders or held slightly backward. The pillow will tend to hold the head in position. Upon waking the body must be repositioned because the body typically reverts back into the fetal position out of habit. One should sleep alternately on each side and the back, but never sleep on the stomach. Proper sleeping posture is very important. Do not lightly dismiss the need to improve sleeping posture. The discs are in tension when the back and neck are bent backwards. This is very healthy because it take the compressive load off of the discs and allows them to expand to regain a healthy thickness. A forward position is very unhealthy for the discs because they always in compression causing them to become thinner over time.Ergonomics - Ergonomics is the study of the working environment compared to the capability of the human body. Ergonomics covers all aspects of a job, from the physical stresses it places on joints, muscles, nerves, tendons, bones and the like, to environmental factors which can affect hearing, vision, and general comfort and health. Work stations and job functions that are not ergonomically designed can cause a constant head and upper body-forward working position. Many jobs require the worker to lean forward to see computer screens, assemble parts, or perform other functions in order to perform the required job. The work station must be redesigned to eliminate bad posture if degenerative disc disease is to be avoided. In many cases the person must change assignments or employment in order to avoid the harmful working environment. Don't expect the employer to provide an ergonomically healthy workstation. You must take action to see that your health is not compromised.
Step 9 - Proper Bed, Mattress, and PillowWe spend at least one third of our lives in bed. Therefore, sleeping in a proper bed is extremely important in maintaining the health of the neck and spine. The horizontal position of the body while in bed finally allows the constant compression load on the neck and back to be relieved.The bed should provide a firm support for the entire spine, and a firm pillow should be used to support the head. The mattress should be constructed with coil springs that are tied together by a continuous support innerspring to share and distribute the load. The best mattress is described as "extra firm" with a firmness rating (comfort scale) of 2.0 based on 1.0 being equivalent to lying on a plush carpeted floor and 10 being very soft. Many mattresses are mislabeled as being "firm" when the rating is actually 5, which is soft. A soft mattress is cheaper to manufacture, so they are often labeled as being more firm than they really are. The extra firm springs provide a desirable foundation because they are tied together to resist uneven loads of the body. The softer foam layers on the surface provide comfort, while the spring system maintains good support. The following mattresses meets these requirements.The following is the original recommendation:The following is a new recommendation made in September, 2013. Keep the old box spring and place a 5" extra firm foam mattress on the existing box spring with a 3" memory foam topper on the 5" foam. Add a mattress cover of your choice. This combination provides the support and comfort of an expensive memory foam mattress set. The foam has an odor for the first few days. It is best to open the foam mattress and topper in a convenient room, such as a living room, away from the bedroom for three days before moving them to the bedroom. This combination provides great support without creating pressure points on the hips.Sleep Better 5-Inch Extra Firm Mattress Topper Note: This will be used as the mattress, not as a topper.
3 Inch Thick, 4 Pound Density Visco Elastic Memory Foam Mattress Pad Bed TopperThe pillow under the head should compress to about 1 to 2 inches (25 to 50 mm) while sleeping. An excessively high pillow must never be used because it places the head in a forward position and places a compression load on the discs. Using two or more pillows under the head and shoulders to raise the upper body should never be used for sleeping. This bad bed posture is often shown on TV for mattress advertisements. The suggested pillow is a Sealy, Posturepedic, firm for men and medium for women. The Silver Safe® pillow with silver infused fiber and fabric is recommended because it offers anti-microbial protection. This pillow is available from J.C. Penney Company in the United States.The following beds are not acceptable since they do not give adequate support. Unfortunately, these mattresses seem to be gaining in popularity.
- Water beds are not acceptable. Water beds increase stress on the weakest parts of the spine and neck.
- Air-supported mattresses are not acceptable. They cause the same problems as water beds.
- Independent coil mattresses are not acceptable. They cause the same problems as water beds. Never buy the type of mattress shown in advertisements where a young woman is jumping up and down on one end of the mattress while a nearly full glass of wine remains upright at the other, or a mattress shown in advertisements where a bowling ball is dropped on one area of the mattress without depressing adjacent areas.
- Memory foam mattresses are not acceptable. They cause the same problems as water beds.
- Adjustable motorized frame beds are not acceptable. They lift the upper body into a position that places the cervical discs in compression.
- Sleeping in a reclining chair is not acceptable. The angle of incline keeps the back and neck in constant compression. Overweight people have sleep apnea and breathing difficulties because the weight of the abdominal fat presses against the diaphragm. Sleeping in a reclining chair allows easier breathing but harms the back and neck.
- Thick pillows or double-stacked pillows are not acceptable. They cause a head-forward position and increase the compression load on the cervical disc.
Step 10 - Chiropractic Manipulation AdjustmentsConventional chiropractic manipulations and adjustments are recommended as discussed above. The chiropractor should take before and after X-rays to detect the health of the neck and the thickness of each cervical disc. This is very important for diagnosis and to judge the success of this complex program, although reduced pain and discomfort is proof that you will instantly appreciate and proof that nobody can deny. One appointment per week should be appropriate, but the chiropractor may try to get you to come in twice a week in the beginning. The frequency can be reduced to once every two weeks after the first two months and can be reduced later to one a month after the fourth month.Standard manipulation opens the facet joints. The snapping noises are caused when the joints open. This treatment allows nutrients and fluids to heal and lubricate the joints. The standard manipulation also stretches the ligaments, tendons, and muscles to help relieve cramping and tightness thereby allowing the spine to return to a normal alignment. The nerves that may be pinched or impacted are also relieved. The neck assumes a more normal alignment, and the manipulation may bring instant relief.Warning! Not all chiropractic manipulations are helpful. Some are very unhealthy and dangerous. The standard manipulations done on a horizontal table are acceptable. Do not allow treatments that seem to make your condition worse. Treatments that place weights into a harness on the head while standing vertically must NEVER be used. The weights place a higher than normal compressive load on the cervical discs. The treatments with weight are exactly opposite to the treatment needed. Just say "no" and be firm in your conviction. Leave the chiropractors office and never go back. No treatment is better than bad treatment.Some standard manipulations can be done to an excess, causing additional straining of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Communicate with the chiropractor. Ask him to change, reduce, or discontinue adjustments in those areas that are made worse. Manipulations done in healthy areas of the spine may be more harmful than helpful. A full spinal manipulation may not be necessary. Do not allow the chiropractor to perform manipulations in areas that already feel strong, flexible, and pain free.The doctor of chiropractic in the example above was very surprised that the curvature of the neck increased because normal chiropractic treatments do not increase the thickness of the cervical discs. The doctor did not know that the complex treatment used here provided very positive results. Chiropractors typically say that reversing degenerative disc disease is impossible. The only hope expressed to the patient is the prevention of further deterioration. Do not expect simple chiropractic treatments to produce the awesome results proven by the program presented here.
Step 11 - Sun TherapyHot sun rays perform like a miracle in relaxing tight muscles, tendons, and ligaments. This is especially true during cold weather and in the winter when muscles then to get tight. A pinched branch nerve in the spine causes the nearby muscles to go into a spasm that can actually make the condition worse. The penetrating heat from the hot sun rays will relax these muscles thereby allowing the spine to seek a normal position. During the winter choose a clear window that allow direct and intense sun light to enter the room. Place an armless chair facing the window and sit backward on the chair. Use the back of the chair to support the arms and upper body in a relaxing position. Change positions as desired and continue for at least 15 minutes or more as desired. The sunlight is also a good way to increase vitamin D level during the winter when it tends to be lower. The vibrating massager recommended in the next step can be used after sun therapy as desired.
Step 12 - Hand Held Personal Vibrating MassagerThe use of a hand held personal vibrating massager can be very beneficial for alleviating cramping and tightness caused by fatigue and strain of the ligaments and tendons. The very high speed vibrations increase blood flow in a localized area, producing a calming effect and promoting healing. Do not confuse this therapy with those of a massage therapist whose motions are very slow and painful. Pain is not gain. Discontinue the use of the vibrating massager if it produces increased pain or discomfort. Use the vibrating massager whenever cramping or tightness is felt or before bedtime.The best type of vibrating massager is multi-speed or variable speed up to 6000 vibrations per minute. Heat is also beneficial, but the unit listed below does not heat. The handle should allow the user to easily reach all areas of the neck and back.The TheraSpa Turbo Brookstone Massager offers total muscle relief with one of the most powerful personal massages available. This is one massage experience that you will never forget!
The Brookstone TheraSpa Turbo Massager features a 90°, 180° and 270° rotating massage head.Do not use a roller type massager with slow action. Do not bother using a massage type chair or recliner. They generally produce motion that is too slow and not localized enough to produce the desired effect.
Step 13 - Expectations, Starting Journal, and Follow-up Program RequirementsThe expectations and measurements of progress are very important in order to be successful in reversing degenerative disc disease. The following topics will help you in planning and measuring your progress. Success always builds confidence and leads to further success.Expectations - This program will show weekly progress that you can measure by comparing your pain levels, activity restrictions, and overall comfort to that of the previous week. Daily progress should not be expected, but any setback should not be dismissed lightly. Overuse of the traction machine or incorrect chiropractic manipulations can cause a setback. These should be corrected immediately.Journal - Write a "Starting Journal" before you begin anything else. The journal should describe your present condition in great detail. Update your journal each week during the first four weeks in order to compare your weekly condition to your previous and starting journal entries. In this way you can accurately measure your progress. Your "Starting Journal" should include the following topics.
- Enter facts such as the date, existing diseases, previous diet philosophy, prescription drugs taken, etc.
- Enter detailed descriptions of your pains, activity restrictions, and discomfort levels experienced during typical daily activities such as walking, sitting, driving a car, job, recreation, and sleeping.
- Enter a number representing the pain level from 0 to 10. Ten is sever pain that is almost unbearable. Zero is feeling wonderfully normal without any pain or discomfort whatsoever.
- Enter the location of the pain, nerve tingling, ache, cramp, or discomfort. Use a scientific chart to attempt to identify the location in the spine that causes the pain or discomfort. Your chiropractor will be of great assistance in the correct identification of the source. Ask your chiropractor for a chart or picture showing all the major components of the spine. Your chiropractor will tell you which nerve root, ligament, tendon, or muscle is the source of the pain, tingling, cramping, or discomfort.Follow-up Program - Write a completely new journal entry every month with all of the detailed information listed for the "Starting Journal." The "Monthly Journal" will help to prevent slippage back into your old lifestyle. Compare these entries to the previous month and to the "Starting Journal" in order to measure your progress. You must not revert back to your old way of life simply because you begin to feel better. Doing so most likely will cause your pain, discomfort, and degenerative disc disease to return. Staying healthy and pain free requires a life-long commitment and control of your treatment program. The following are a few follow-up guidelines and restrictions.
- The high-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet required by this program is an absolute lifelong requirement. Health will suffer in proportion to the percentage of carbohydrates reintroduced back into the diet.
- Insulin, adrenalin, and cortisol hormones must be strictly controlled by the diet program presented here.
- Prescription immunosuppressant drugs must be strictly avoided in order to prevent the return of severe degenerative disc disease. There is nothing you can do to overpower the devastating effects of these drugs. The diet program presented here has a strong and positive effect in reducing the negative symptoms of autoimmune diseases.
- Traction should be an ongoing treatment either daily or every other day.
- Chiropractic manipulation many be helpful on a monthly or semi-monthly basis.
- Buy a new bed as specified above. People become addicted to familiar objects, such as a favorite bed. Most people cannot admit that the water bed or air bed they previously purchased was a big mistake.
- Buy a new pillow as specified above. Do not think that all pillows are the same. The new pillow can make a tremendous improvement in your neck and back.
- The protein and amino acid therapy is vital, but again, all of the steps are vital.
- Do not pick and choose from the steps above without doing them all. Most people think they will get better if they could only discover that missing magic bullet. This logic is wrong.
Step 14 - Pitfalls, Cautions, and Warnings About Temptations That Cause FailureDon't slack off from this program simply because you are beginning to feel better. The "Follow-on Program" must be continued even when you are feeling wonderfully well in order to stay that way.Carbohydrates are extremely addictive. Very few people understand this. People will give up wheat products by switching to rice or oat grains without experiencing any addictive withdrawal symptoms whatsoever. This is because all grains are very high in carbohydrates. The monkey on your back will immediately raise its ugly head when you cut your carbohydrate intake severely as required by the diet program presented here. The reasons people use as excuses to continue to eat carbohydrates are unlimited. Don't come up with a new excuse. Bite the bullet and control your addiction. One must have a high level of self-control, commitment, and determination in order to resist carbohydrate addictions. Severely negative side effects can be experienced when carbohydrates are withdrawn from the diet in direct proportion to the amount of damage done to the body by the previous high-carbohydrate diet. Diabetics are a good example of these negative side effects, but they can be overcome. Read the following web pages in order to gain an understanding about the withdrawal symptoms of carbohydrate addiction and how to overcome and control them.Reversing Heart Disease, Heart Attack, Coronary Artery Disease, Stent, HDL, and LDL Cholesterol Success StoriesCancer - The Cause, Prevention, Treatment, Control and Spontaneous Remission of Cancer of the Breast, Prostate, Lung, Colon, Liver, Pancreas, Brain, Bone, Lymph Gland, or Skin Melanoma.
Common Recommendations That Are Wrong
Exercises and Water Aerobics Will Not Rebuild the NeckNeck exercises and water aerobics will not rebuild the neck or reverse degenerative disc disease as commonly promised. Treadmills and elliptical training machines will not rebuild your neck. Most people with neck problems can attest to this fact. Strains and tears of the ligaments, tendons, and muscles heal naturally without exercise. Healing occurs even though neck exercises are done, not because the exercises are done. This give the false impression that the exercises helped in the healing. This assumption is wrong. Actually, exercise slows the healing and frequently does more damage. The best treatments for sprains and strains of ligaments, tendons, and muscles are immobilization followed by small movements that do not cause pain. For good reason we do not want to move our neck when it hurts. The movements actually prevent or slow the healing process. Nearly all neck exercises are done in the vertical position with the neck in compression. These exercises multiply the compressive stress on the cervical discs and facet joints. Do not do neck exercises in an attempt to heal the neck. Movement of the head off center increases the pressure on the cervical discs.Warning! Tilting the head as far forward as possible with the chin down toward the chest is especially dangerous. The exercise instructor may ask the participant to apply an additional downward load by placing both hands on the top of the head and pulling downward. Do not perform this exercise because it is very dangerous! The discs are highly compressed in an eccentric manner that is most likely to cause the disc to rupture. Never place eccentric compressive loads on the head. Any compressive load on the head is bad, but eccentric compressive loads are extremely dangerous. Tilting the head to the side or backward will increase the compression. Pulling the head farther to the side with one hand is very bad for the cervical discs, facet joints, ligaments, and tendons. Refuse to do these exercises and discontinue all treatment with any exercise instructor, physical therapist, or chiropractor who tries to make you perform them.Yoga Will Not Rebuild the NeckYoga will not rebuild the neck or reverse degenerative disc disease as commonly promised. Most people with neck problems can attest to this fact. Yoga moves are very similar to commonly recommended neck exercises and have all of the same negative problems. Many yoga positions are much more dangerous than common exercises. Actually, yoga slows the healing of discs, facet joints, ligaments, tendons, and muscles. Yoga makes degenerative disc disease worse. You may feel better after a few of the initial yoga exercises because of your preexisting mental bias, but a review of your condition a year after starting yoga will show your condition is worse. Yoga instructors typically recommend a vegetarian diet that is one of the primary causes of degenerative disc disease.Warning! One yoga position is extremely dangerous even for young people with perfectly healthy necks. This is the yoga "shoulder stand" position in which the person starts by lying flat on his/her back. The legs and hips are rolled upward into the vertical position until the body is resting upside down on the back of the shoulders. The neck is bent almost 90 degrees forward in the area of the C5 through C7 vertebrae. The eccentric compressive loads on the cervical discs are extreme. Herniation and/or rupture of the discs could occur instantly.All yoga exercises done in the vertical standing or sitting position are also bad for the neck. Do not do any yoga exercises in an attempt to heal the neck.Pilates Exercises Will Not Rebuild the NeckPilates exercises are generally not harmful to the neck. Neither will they do much good. The exercises have no affect in overcoming catabolism of the spine when the catabolic hormones are raging. The pilates equipment is also expensive. The perceived health improvement from doing pilates exercises is basically psychological.Physical Therapy Will Not Rebuild the NeckPhysical therapy will not rebuild the neck or reverse degenerative disc disease as commonly promised. Therapy moves performed in the horizontal position may not be detrimental, but physical therapy performed in the vertical position will most likely cause additional damage to the neck and spine. Therapy movements of the head while standing or sitting upright cause increased eccentric pressure on the cervical discs.Warning! Tilting the head as far forward as possible with the chin down toward the chest is especially dangerous. The physical therapist may ask the participant to apply an additional downward load by placing both hands on the top of the head and pulling downward. Do not perform this exercise because it is very dangerous. The discs are highly compressed in an eccentric manner that is most likely to cause the disc to rupture. Never place eccentric compressive loads on the head. Any compressive load on the head is bad, but eccentric compressive loads are extremely dangerous. Tilting the head to the side or backward will increase the compression. Pulling the head farther to the side with one hand is very bad for the cervical discs, facet joints, ligament, and tendons. Refuse to do these exercises and discontinue all treatment with any exercise instructor, physical therapist, or chiropractor who tries to make you perform them.Massage Therapy Will Not Rebuild the NeckMassage therapy is generally done on a table with the patient in a horizontal position. This position is much better than the vertical position generally used in yoga and exercise. The massage may feel good because it increases blood flow, but deep massage can also make the condition worse when excessive pressure causes further damage to the already injured tissues.Warning! Do not believe the massage therapist who tells you the pain is good. Leave and never go back. Pain is not gain.Head Weights Used in a Head Harness are DangerousThe natural weight of the head is one of the contributing causes of degenerative disc disease. Some chiropractors are applying additional weight to the head with the use of a head harness. This practice is bad for healthy people, and most certainly should never be done to patients with degenerative disc disease.Warning! This chiropractic procedure is dangerous and harmful. This procedure can instantly increase pain and discomfort. Do not go to a chiropractor who uses this technique. Grab your neck and run.Medical Doctors Generally Prescribe Drugs and Perform SurgeryMedical doctors are trained to prescribe drugs and perform surgeries in the attempt to eliminate the symptoms of degenerative disc disease. These methods are not intended to reverse degenerative disc disease. Doctors rarely have a comprehensive, non invasive program to reverse degenerative disc disease. They prescribe drugs in an attempt to relieve some of the pain, but these are not very effective as most sufferers will testify. These drugs also have harsh side effects. The drugs do not heal the neck and do not reverse degenerative disc disease.The surgical approach is the best solution for many neck problems. One necessary surgery is the removal of the gelatinous nucleus pulposus that extrudes from the center of a disc when it ruptures. Quick action is recommended in some cases to prevent permanent damage to the spinal cord. The bulge of a herniated disc can be trimmed away internally to eliminate pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots, thereby relieving the pain. This procedure has the negative side effect of weakening an already damaged disc. The entire disc can be replaced with a synthetic disc or one from a cadaver, but disc replacement can have considerable negative consequences. The symptoms of a thinning disc can be eliminated by locking the spacing of the vertebrae using plates and screws. In some cases two adjacent vertebrae are allowed to fuse together with transplanted bone to replace the surgically removed disc. Some of these procedures give fairly good results, but many disastrous complications are also common. The program presented here is very low risk, but a complete medical diagnosis should not be delayed before starting this program. Medical conditions such as tumors and/or cancer should be ruled out by a doctor before attempting chiropractic manipulations or traction. It is therefore advisable to have a complete diagnosis performed by a medical doctor before proceeding with the program presented here.