Now let’s consider the joints of your body. Joints are hinge-points between bones that allow for movement of those bones. Joints are held together by tissues we call ligaments. Joints are moved this way and that by muscles, while tendons are the tissues that connect the muscles to the bones. The most important fact is that every joint is lined with cartilage. One kind of cartilage between each vertebra in your spine is the disc. It is similar to the cartilage of your ear. Another kind of cartilage is a glass-like layer covering the bones in all the other joints of the body. It is ultra-smooth so that the bones can glide over each other without friction, and is kept smooth by a lubricant call synovial fluid. So in essence, joints are cartilage.
One very important fact of human physiology is that adult humans essentially do not make cartilage. When you are done growing up what you have is what you get. It’s all downhill from there. When you lose cartilage you never never get it back, ever. There is no treatment to replace cartilage. No drug. No surgery. No supplement. No exercise. No stem cell therapy. Nothing. I could go into the subtle differences between the cartilage of the disc and the cartilage of the other joints as to how they behave, how they wear out, and their function. But for the sake of this article they all wear out due to the effects of Time, Life, and Gravity. The discs narrow, degenerate and herniate. The glass lining develops pock marks and fissures, eventually becoming more like sand paper than glass. And some day, when the cartilage is gone, you have bone on bone. That joint is done. You can drug it, deal with it, fuse it or sometimes replace it with plastic or steel.
“That won’t happen to me,” you think?! I would argue that 90% of us deal with back problems. Back problems cause more disability than any other single cause. More money is spent in the treatment of back problems than any other single health care issue. If you live long enough I can all but guarantee “It will happen to you.”
When joints wear out we become increasingly immobile. At some point we use canes and walkers. We stop hiking, walking, and running, moving. We sit more. We give in. The way I look at it is very pragmatic. Death is when all of our parts stop moving. I think that longevity and health rely upon mobility. And mobility depends upon cartilage. Once cartilage is gone you don’t get it back. The only logical conclusion is that we need to hold on to the cartilage that we have. There are only two tools to help with that. Stretching of the healthy joints to keep them moving. Chiropractic adjustments to the sick joints to get them moving again.
If you get sick odds are you will get better, that it is temporary. But once you lose your mobility (and by that I mean lose your cartilage) that will be for the rest of your life, forever.