Is Disc Degeneration Permanent?

The New Science of Spinal Regeneration

“Patients and doctors alike are under the misconception that once a spinal condition exists — including disc degeneration, disc herniation and nerve damage — you need surgery or are forced to live with pain, weakness and organ malfunction for the rest of your life. However, the truth behind today’s spinal treatments bears that while the spine can easily degenerate it can, with intelligent and concerted effort, also regenerate. Therefore, many conditions once believed to be permanent can  not only be healed, but reversed. 

Spinal regeneration and disc regeneration are attainable for many. 

To receive spinal regeneration, you must go to a chiropractor trained in this area of spinal care. The Pettibon System is designed to restore spinal curvatures and bring motion and fluid back to the cervical and lumbar discs. The safety and effectiveness of this type of program are far superior to any type of surgery. When accompanied with the right nutrients and additional exercises shown to you by your corrective care chiropractor, all of the elements necessary for spinal regeneration are there. At any age, with any level of degeneration, the potential for some degree of correction and healing is possible.”

Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Fred DiDomenico –

IMAGE 41 and 42 Disc pre/post.

At our office, we employ Dr. Pettibon’s research-tested equipment and adjusting procedures, including a home care system for faster longer lasting recovery. We also take x-rays to diagnose spinal conditions, assess treatment progress, and provide proof of treatment effectiveness.

This unique method can create changes, not only in your spine and posture, but ultimately improve your overall health and brain function.


By Dr. Ben Lerner and Dr. Fred DiDomenico

Everything from standing upright, to sleeping, to going to the bathroom is under direct control of the spinal column and the nervous system it encases. Yet, not very much medical or media attention is focused on sustaining this all-important area of the human body. As a result of the neglect, abuse and poor focus both the spine and nervous system receive, most people suffer greatly with the results of deterioration in this area at some point in their lives.


A View from the Inside

A review of published literature indicates that the upright adult spine loses up to 20 mm (slightly more than 3/4 inch) of vertical height each day due to loss of fluid from the spinal discs. The sleep cycle allows the unloaded discs to regain most, but not all, of their fluid and height by the re-absorption of fluid surrounding the discs (Kapandji, 1974).

Since all the fluid and disc height is not regained, the spine becomes shorter starting around age 30. It is common to lose up to 2 inches of stature by age 60 due to the loss of disc fluid. In addition, loss of disc fluid and height compromise spinal form and function (Kapandji, 1974).  When the discs lose their height the nerves, which exit between the vertebrae and send vital messages to your body systems, are more likely to be compressed.  IMAGE 43

The discs are comprised of 88 percent water. Proper hydration is essential for nourishment, lubrication and function of all joint cartilages, tendons, ligaments and spinal discs’ nutrition delivery and waste elimination. When the body is not properly hydrated, it pulls water out of the “white tissues” first, meaning the ligaments (including the discs), tendons and joints of the body. If the body continues to not get adequate water, the body will then pull it out of the organs, eventually the brain and then you will die.

A loss of only 12 percent of the water out of the spinal disc will reduce the disc height by 50 percent.

Surprisingly, the loss of 1 mm of height in a cervical disc and 1.4 mm loss of height in the lumbar disc will cause the same amount of neurological compression and nerve encroachment equal to an 8-degree rotation. (It takes a 3-degree rotation to cause nerve impingement). So you can see that it doesn’t take much water loss in the body to start affecting your discs and the function of your nervous system.

How does the water get lost? Between ages 12-14, the spinal discs lose their blood supply.  So they must get their nutrition from movement of the bones or vertebrae that they are attached to. The discs will have to receive their necessary water, nutrients and waste elimination in the same way fluid passes through a sponge when it is squeezed under water.

This becomes a challenge because, as people get older, they may become more sedentary, develop advancing spinal and postural degenerative conditions and ultimately lose the segmental motion of their spine. Once they lose this motion, the discs quickly dehydrate and lose height. This leads to nerve encroachment and chronic pain syndromes that soon advance to problems with organs, glands and tissues.


Gaining Water

Pettibon Chiropractic Wobble Chair Exercises

The Pettibon Wobble Chair which helps motion your lumbar discs.

Chiropractors involved with spinal correction and rehabilitation can detect levels of disc degeneration and correct the spinal displacements that are causing nerve impingement.  This helps the nervous system to function optimally and keep the body healthy. Until recently, it had been thought, once a disc was degenerated and lost height it could not be restored. It had also been thought that loss of disc height could not be prevented. These assumptions are no longer true.

Discs can rehydrate and regenerate.  To put it quite simply, your discs need three things to regenerate:


After the age of 12 you lose the blood supply to your discs.  This leaves motion as the only way to pump out waste material out and bring nutrition in to the disc.  In a sedentary person it can take up to 500 days for this flushing of the disc to take place.  With the Pettibon System you will create this metabolic exchange in your discs on a daily basis


Drinking water is essential for rehydration of intervertebral discs Water

 When causing this disc imbibition/drinking in of fluid through the Pettibon Wobble Chair, Pettibon Cervical Traction and spinal decompression machine you will need plenty of water in your body.  Many beverages such as soda, coffee, beer and wine are diuretics and do not count toward water consumption when under Pettibon Chiropractic care.


Intervertebral Discs are helped through Pettibon Chiropractic Care



Nutrient delivery into the discs is imperative to give your body the building blocks it needs to create new collagenous disc material.  Nutritional advisement may be a crucial part of your care.

Research has shown, if we can provide loading and unloading cycles

Pettibon Cervical Traction to Help With Disc Degeneration

Pettibon Cervical Traction

to the spine, we can literally “suck” water back into the disc and rehydrate it predictably. This is done by osmosis and imbibing. 

Repetitive traction (elongation) followed by compression of the discs produce a drinking in of water into the disc.  This helps the doctor achieve an easier adjustment as well as re-hydrating the disc. 

When the spine is soft, it is easier to mold into the new and improved posture. The newly liquified disc will require 16-20 minutes to harden like Jell-O again. Once the spine is adjusted and the structure is corrected, the spine can be molded and hardened into its new shape. 


The Pettibon System

For this reason, pre-adjustment warm-ups using the Pettibon Wobble Chair and Repetitive Cervical Traction become essential for spinal correction and regeneration.  Here are some of the benefits of loading and unloading cycles using the wobble chair and cervical traction.

  • The discs ligaments and tendons are nourished.
  • The discs, ligaments, tendons and adhesions that might be holding the vertebral units out of their normal position are made progressively less resistant to spinal corrective adjusting.
  • Up to 95 percent of the force needed to adjust is reduced by these repetitive cycle warm-ups.
  • Re-hydrated discs and increased disc height.
  • Increased disc and tendon strength.
  • Decreased potential for injury or severity of injury.
  • Lubrication for spinal joints and nourishment for their cartilage.
  • Prevention of scar tissue during healing.

The Pettibon Chiropractic system offers a cervical decompressive type of traction along with a lumbar motion device designed to restore spinal curves and bring motion and fluid back to the cervical and lumbar discs. The safety and effectiveness of this type of program are far superior to any type of surgery.  However, if you need a surgical consult, we refer to fine neurosurgeons that only cut when absolutely needed.

Senior Citizen Using the Pettibon Wobble ChairWhen accompanied with the right nutrients and additional exercises shown to you by your corrective care chiropractor, all of the elements necessary for spinal regeneration are there. At any age, with any level of degeneration, the potential for some degree of correction and healing is possible.



Research on the Pettibon System of Spinal Rejuvenation & Decompression:

Radiographic disc height increases after a trial of multi-modal spine rehabilitation and vibration traction:  a retrospective case series Ian Horseman DC, Mark Morningstar DC, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine (2008) 7, 140- 145

 This initial study was done to see if the SRT system of spinal decompression, which uses whole body vibration and includes the use of the wobble chair, cervical repetitive traction,

Chiropractic adjustments, and body weighting rehabilitation, could improve disc height.  The loss of spinal disc height is a common part of degenerative disc disease.

 Key Points:

  • Patients were required to fit 2 of the following criteria: (1)-low back pain, (2)- numbness/tingling in one or both legs, (3)-pain level 8 out of 10 on pain scale, (4)-sciatica, (5)-disc herniation diagnosed on MRI.
  • Each patient was evaluated using a numeric pain scale, Spirometer measuring lung capacity, and radio graphic disc height and lumbar curve measurements.
  • Six patients followed a specific treatment protocol consisting of 5 minutes of warm-up wobble chair stretches, 4 minutes of cervical repetitive traction, SRT with vibration, head weighting, chiropractic adjustment, and ice. 
  • Patients were placed on the SRT table with whole body vibration with continuous traction. Vibration causes rapid muscle fatigue, which overcomes muscle spasm and guarding, promoting spinal lengthening.
  • The SRT table is different then other spinal decompression tables in that there is a constant traction force applied increasing spinal lengthening. 
  • After the SRT with vibration, wobble chair stretches, head weighting and adjustment were performed. 
  • Each patient was given a Pettibon home rehab set to be used at home daily. 
  • The average age of all 6 of the patients was 40 years old with an average weight of 155 pounds.
  • Results:  All 6 patients were able to increase functional status-they increased in overall height; they improved in lung function; they reported lower numeric pain scores; they improved in disc height in 3 of 5 lumbar discs on plain film radiographs.

 Readily and repetitively increasing disc height has been unheard of in medicine until now.  Our unique system of SRT decompression, adjustment and rehabilitation is proving to be a life changer and lifesaver for many with disc degeneration.