This is one of the most basic questions that every chiropractor should continue to learn to answer. A recent study from Dr. David Taylor reviewed a theoretical basis for ongoing spinal care. The study reviewed research that demonstrated the effects of what happens when a spinal facet joint is immobile.
At 1 week, the articular surface of the joint starts to degenerate
At 4 weeks, soft tissue adhesions start to form around the joint and normal neurons that are in the joint to sense joint position start to atrophy and degenerate
At 8 weeks, moderate adhesions form and surrounding muscle starts to atrophy and develop fatty infiltration
At greater than 12 weeks, some of these changes may become irreversible.
Spinal adjusting has been demonstrated to gap the spinal facet joint and theoretically places a force through the capsule that will encourage spinal remodeling over time to improve the quality of the joint. There would also be an excitation of nerves that sense motion to improve input to the central nervous system.
Based on these studies, recommendations could be made to have spinal joint mobility assessed from professional every 4 weeks to prevent early degeneration, muscle and nerve atrophy, and ensure proper function.