Regeneration of spinal tissues is big business.
It is one of the largest and most popular research topics in the world of spinal research today. Investigators fueled by investors are constantly trying to figure out how to make the cells in the discs turn on and upregulate. Because there is such vast degeneration in these tissues today (especially in the aging population), the hunt for triggers to wake up these cells catches a lot of interest.
What we do know is that cells respond to mechanical stimuli. That is, when disc cells are moved or experience forces, they respond in a positive way. Researchers are always trying to find the optimal forces and for how long and at what frequency do the forces need to be delivered. Too much force will cause damage.
In a well respected Journal named Arthritis and Rheumatism, a manuscript titled
looked at what happens to disc cells with vibration. Interestingly, when the cells were vibrated at 45Hz they did not respond at all but when they slowed down the vibration to 15Hz (15 wobbles per second), the cells became active and began to regenerate by a concept called upregulation. This term is used to describe how cells start to positively behave creating better products and structure around them.
As a spinal researcher myself, I find this very interesting as I have found that chair-care demonstrates some clinical elements of regeneration in my patients. I have seen how the discs increase in height which must mean there is some form of upregulation of nuclear cells. To explain briefly, nuclear cells make negatively charged protein to enable them to hold onto water. This is what gives us our ability to keep verterbal spacing. If there is less of theseproteins (proteoglycans), then there is great difficulty in trying to resist compression. Degenerated discs are those that have less of these proteins and the inability to resist compression.
Not all my patients have the luxury of obtaining an MRI before and after my treatment but some do. Below you can see one of my cases that showed more water in the disc after treatment and the implementation of chair-care exercise. This was a patient that had underwent surgery and came to see me a year and a half after the laminectomy with continued problems. I was happy to be able to help him. If you look carefully, you can see in the black identification circles there is more water ( white ) in the disc. Keep in mind that each patient requires a tailored treatment plan and not all discs are regenerable. It depends on how long they have been degenerating for. Earlier intervention always provides the most hope.
If you want to learn more, visit Dr. Jerome Fryer