In the chiropractic profession, degenerative changes to the spine are often categorized under 4 distinct phases.
Degeneration Phase 1
The first stage of spinal degeneration is when there is a minor loss of normal spine balance and spinal curvature. The surrounding features of the spine such as nerves, discs and joints begin to age quicker and are continually more stressed. This stage of the degeneration process rarely is accompanied with any major pain. At this point, there is a good chance that with the proper care, you can return to normal.
Degeneration Phase 2
In the second stage of spinal degeneration, there is a often narrowing of the discs and potentially deformation in the bones. Your posture is often beginning to degenerate as well at this point. As the spinal canal, or opening begins to narrow, there are often significant aches and pains associated. Fatigue and stress are more common at this stage. There is a good chance of improvement at this stage with the proper care.
Degeneration Phase 3
In the third stage of spinal degeneration, there is significant physical and mental involvement due to the level of issues here. There is most likely nerve damage as well as deformation of the bones and discs. There would be a significant loss of energy and height at this point. Some reversal is possible.
Degeneration Phase 4
In the fourth stage of spinal degeneration, most damage is permanent including scar tissue, nerve damage and deformation. At this point, the condition is irreversible. Management of pain and discomfort is the best option here.