Does joint ‘degeneration’ cause pain?

By Reiss C Gridley, B.Sc.

Degeneration is ‘deterioration and loss of function in the cells of a tissue or organ’. Our bodies degenerate as we get older just like wrinkles appear on our skin. Here are 2 studies that look at joint degeneration and pain:

  • A study of 113 people by Finan et al that found a clear pattern of people with knees that look bad on a scan, but feel fine, and vice versa.
  • In another study professor Nikolai Bogduk explains that “‘Degenerative disc disease’ conveys to patients that they are disintegrating, which they are not. Moreover, disc degeneration, spondylosis and spinal osteoarthrosis correlate poorly with pain and may be totally asymptomatic.”

So, what does this mean to someone who has just had an X-ray on their arthritic knee or and MRI on their ‘degenerative’ spine? It means be sceptical when a health care professional says that it’s the reason for the pain. This is because most of the time it simply isn’t the cause of the pain but more of a symptom of aging.

From my personal experience with working for 3 years with X-rays, sometimes patients would have huge amounts of pain but no real sign of degeneration, even when older! The same happens when someone has very bad ‘degenerative disc disease’, but has a small amount of pain that goes away with one treatment.

The most likely reason for the joint pain, swelling and stiffness is inflammation. Inflammation can happen because of many reasons including rheumatoid arthritis or injury to the joint. One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is improving joint movement and function. At Back to Life we use specific exercises to help improve joint function and improve movement so we can tackle pain.

If you are suffering with arthritis, swelling, joint injury or pain. Please book in for a full 1-hour consultation so you can get to the bottom of what is causing the pain.

Does ‘bad posture’ cause pain?

By Reiss C. Gridley, B.Sc.

Does bad posture cause pain


Against popular belief the answer is no. Whether its slouching over a computer (like i am now whilst writing this) or having rounded shoulders, or too much or too little lower back curve. It doesn’t matter when it comes to pain.

In a review of 50 research articles the evidence does not support an association between spinal curves (posture) and spinal health including spinal pain (Christensen and Hartvigsen, 2008).

Its also VERY hard to measure peoples posture. An article by Schmidt et al. said that ‘It can be concluded that standing is highly individual and poorly reproducible.’ This means that everyone stands differently and the same person doesn’t stand the same way when tested again. Another study found that over a 24 hour period the same person can stand up to 8 degrees in difference. So its very hard to know what the perfect way to sit or stand is.

There are times when posture is important. An example of this is when someone is bending forwards to avoid back pain or leaning towards one side because of leg pain. If these ‘pain postures’ are left untreated it can affect the normal function and movement of the spine and body. This in turn can make the pain become long standing and chronic.

Scoliosis (side ways curve) of the spine could be seen as a ‘bad posture’ but it’s more of a medical condition. This needs to be treated early on in life but can still be treated without surgery later on in life.

If you’re suffering with pain, or have scoliosis, or just want a better posture. Please get in contact with us below.

References

Christensen ST, Hartvigsen J. Spinal curves and health: a systematic critical review of the epidemiological literature dealing with associations between sagittal spinal curves and health. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2008;31(9):690–714.

Schmidt H, Bashkueva M, Weertsa J, Graichena F, Altenscheid J, Maier C, Reitmaier S. How do we stand? Variations during repeated standing phases of asymptomatic subjects and low back pain patients. Journal of Biomechanics 2018; 70: 67-76.

Dreischarf M, Pries E, Bashkueva M, Putzier M, Schmidt H. Differences between clinical “snap-shot” and “real-life” assessments of lumbar spine alignment and motion – What is the “real” lumbar lordosis of a human being? Journal of Biomechanics 2016; 49(5): 638-644