Schmorl’s Nodes: Putting the Squeeze on Your Vertebrae
By Dr. Molly Casey
Your body is a machine. As machines age they sometimes get rusty, deteriorate or even break. The better you care for the machine -- the more upkeep you provide -- generally the better it will work and the longer it will last. Same goes for your body and your spine. The spine has common patterns of breakdown when it’s not properly cared for. One semi-common type of deterioration, though not well-known, is called a Schmorl’s node.
First, a little refresher on spinal anatomy. There are 24 movable vertebrae in the spine; between 23 of those vertebrae are spinal discs, which are small sacs of fluid and soft tissue. These discs are an axis of rotation for all vertebral movement.
A Schmorl’s node is an upward or downward protrusion of the fluid and soft tissue of the disc into the vertebral body (end plate) above or below. These are often seen on X-rays and appear as a small indentation into the vertebrae.
What Causes Them
Schmorl’s nodes occur most often as a result of degeneration of the spine. As you age, so does your body and spine -- your machine. The better you care for your spine in that process, generally the less degeneration you’ll experience. When the spine has undergone repetitive traumas for long periods of time, including poor posture and work-related motions, it suffers; changes may occur that aren’t optimal. Vertebrae themselves can get stuck in certain positions and/or become limited in their range of motion. This puts excess stress on the discs and can cause degenerative changes -- such as soft tissue protruding into the adjacent vertebral bodies -- to occur there as well.
Schmorl’s nodes are often asymptomatic, meaning they can be found on X-rays even though the individual has no pain or symptoms associated. They can be accompanied with inflammation and with greater degrees of degenerative changes in the spine and its joints.
There is no one specific treatment that targets Schmorl’s nodes. Any care for the spine that will help improve function and proper range of motion can certainly assist in slowing the progression or worsening of these nodes and other degenerative changes.
Chiropractic adjustments help restore motion to the spinal joints and promote the health of the vertebral discs, as well as promoting optimal nervous system function. The discs themselves receive nutrients and stay properly hydrated as a result of proper spinal joint motion. The more properly hydrated and nourished, the less likely protrusions of the disc material into adjacent vertebrae.
While Schmorl’s nodes are not commonly talked about, they are a somewhat common degenerative change in the structure and health of the spine as a whole. Let chiropractic care help you keep your spine as mobile and highly functioning as possible. Come see us at The Joint Chiropractic in one of more than 400 locations nationwide so we can help you and your spine stay healthy!
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