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Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects the spinal discs, causing pain and discomfort for millions of people worldwide. This article will explore the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, how chiropractic care can help, different stages of the disease, common chiropractic treatments, and the importance of seeking chiropractic care for this condition.

What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease?

Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include chronic back pain, which may worsen when sitting, bending, or lifting. The pain can also radiate to the arms, leading to neck pain. Individuals with degenerative disc disease may also experience stiffness and reduced flexibility in the spine. In some cases, muscle weakness or tingling sensations in the extremities may occur.

Degenerative disc disease affects the spine by causing the discs to lose water and flexibility, leading to decreased disc height and an abnormal motion between the vertebrae. This can result in spinal stenosis, where the spinal canal narrows and puts pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. As the condition progresses, it may lead to herniated discs and bone spurs, further contributing to pain and discomfort.

If you are experiencing symptoms of degenerative disc disease, such as persistent back or neck pain, reduced mobility, or weakness in the extremities, it is essential to seek medical help. A healthcare professional can provide a proper diagnosis and recommend appropriate treatment options to manage the symptoms and prevent the progression of the disease.

How can chiropractic care help with degenerative disc disease?

Chiropractic care offers non-invasive treatment options for degenerative disc disease, focusing on relieving pain, reducing inflammation, and improving spinal function. Chiropractors may use spinal manipulation and other therapeutic techniques to address the underlying issues contributing to the symptoms of degenerative disc disease.

Chiropractic treatment options for degenerative disc disease may include spinal adjustments, flexion-distraction, and non-thrusting techniques to alleviate pain and restore spinal motion. Additionally, chiropractors may utilize trigger point therapy and soft tissue treatments to target specific areas of discomfort and promote healing.

The benefits of chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease are numerous, including the reduction of inflammation in the affected spinal discs, alleviation of pain associated with the condition, and improvement in overall spinal function. Chiropractic therapy can help individuals with degenerative disc disease regain mobility and experience a better quality of life.

What are the stages of degenerative disc disease?

Understanding the different stages of degenerative disc disease is crucial for determining the appropriate treatment and management approaches. Initially, the disease may manifest as mild disc degeneration, with symptoms such as intermittent back pain and stiffness. As degenerative disc disease progresses, individuals may experience persistent discomfort, reduced spinal flexibility, and possible nerve compression.

Advanced stages of degenerative disc disease may lead to the formation of bone spurs, herniated discs, and significant spinal abnormalities. At this point, the condition may cause severe pain and limitations in daily activities. Treatment options for advanced stages of degenerative disc disease may include surgical interventions, although non-invasive approaches like chiropractic care can also play a crucial role in managing the symptoms and improving spinal health.

What are the common chiropractic treatments for degenerative disc disease?

Chiropractic manipulation is a widely used technique for providing relief to individuals with degenerative disc disease. This non-invasive approach aims to restore normal spinal motion, relieve pain, and reduce the discomfort associated with the condition. Chiropractors may also employ non-thrusting techniques, such as flexion-distraction, to address specific spinal issues and promote healing.

Trigger point therapy and soft tissue treatments are integral parts of chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease. These therapies target muscle tension and discomfort, helping individuals find relief from pain and improve their overall spinal function without the need for pharmaceutical interventions or invasive procedures.

Chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease encompasses a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to the individual's specific symptoms and needs. By addressing the root causes of the condition and promoting spinal health, chiropractors play a vital role in enhancing the overall well-being of patients with degenerative disc disease.

Why is it important to seek chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease?

Early chiropractic intervention for degenerative disc disease offers numerous benefits, including the prevention of further degeneration, reduction of pain, and improvement in spinal function. By addressing the underlying issues contributing to the disease, chiropractic care can help individuals manage their symptoms and enhance their quality of life.

Chiropractic care provides a non-pharmaceutical option for managing degenerative disc disease, focusing on natural healing and restoration of spinal health. Through spinal adjustments, chiropractors help reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and restore proper spinal motion, enabling individuals to experience improved mobility and decreased discomfort associated with the condition.

Seeking chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease is essential for individuals looking for non-invasive, effective treatment options that target the root causes of their symptoms. By working with a chiropractor, individuals can take proactive steps towards managing their condition and achieving a higher level of well-being.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease, also called DDD, is a term that refers to the anatomical changes of the spinal segments that occur from degeneration, or “osteoarthritis,” of the spine caused by injuries, aging, and the effects of gravity. By the time we reach our mid-30s, almost a third of people will show some evidence of it. By 60, more than 90% of us have some disc degeneration.

DDD Disc degeneration Chiropractic Basalt Aspen Carbondale

As we age, the rubbery discs that cushion the spinal vertebrae can dry out, thin or even tear—or the gel-like core may bulge through the outer portion of the disc. Any of these changes can cause pain, inflammation, and reduced mobility, and can impinge on the delicate nerves that exit the spine. Although many people have no symptoms of degenerative disc disease for a long time, it’s likely that as the condition advances, there may be pain—much like a cavity that starts in the tooth without any noticeable discomfort until it has advanced considerably. Chiropractors can help relieve the pain that may eventually accompany degenerative disc disease and help keep your spine flexible and functioning.

Characteristics of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease most commonly occurs in the lumbar (lower back) region, which bears most of the body weight, but it can also develop in the cervical spine (neck) and the thoracic spine (upper back).

Herniated Disc HNP Chiropractic Basalt Aspen Carbondale

The disc has a gel-like inner core surrounded by an outer ring. The inner part is about 80% water, but as it dries out over time it becomes less flexible (it’s also why we get shorter as we age). This puts more stress on the outer part of the disc, which can make it bulge and press against sensitive nerves. Sometimes the inner part of the disc pushes through a tear in the disc wall and touches nearby nerves. The gel contains inflammatory proteins that can irritate the nerves and surrounding structures.

The body may respond to the thinning of discs by developing bony growths called bone spurs, which can interfere with nerve transmission. They don’t always cause trouble, but in some rare cases, they take up room in the spinal canal needed by the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. If the nerves in the spine become compressed (pinched), you can develop pain, weakness, and/or numbness in the arms or legs.

While many people with DDD do not have pain or symptoms at all, most people with spine-related pain will have signs of DDD. When symptoms are present, they vary depending on the cause and location: Many people feel a dull ache, while others have sharp or even burning pain. The pain may extend down to the buttocks and legs, which is called sciatica.

With DDD, sitting usually causes the most pain because it puts more weight on your discs and surrounding structures. Standing for long periods of time, especially on hard surfaces, can be difficult. Activities such as bending or twisting can make your pain worse, while lying down tends to relieve it, as can walking.

Chiropractic Treatment of DDD

Of the 22 million people who see a chiropractor each year, about a third of them go for back pain, and many of those people have degenerative disc disease. Chiropractors can help your back feel and move better. Chiropractic therapies can soothe irritated spinal nerves and help improve joint mechanics.

Chiropractors use different kinds of techniques, including:

  • Spinal manipulation: a precise and controlled thrust on joints that lack mobility or show abnormal motion.
  • Flexion-distraction: a gentle type of spinal manipulation that uses a non-thrusting technique and specialized table, usually employed for herniated discs and spinal stenosis, the narrowing of the spinal canal.
  • Instrument-assisted manipulation: a gentle pinpoint force applied using a handheld instrument.
  • Trigger point therapy: applying direct pressure to painful points (knots) in the muscles to relieve tension.

Chiropractors also use tools to reduce inflammation, including:

Chiropractors may recommend exercises to bolster in-office treatment and help prevent disease progression.

Degeneration cannot be reversed, and serious chronic cases of disc degeneration disease may need surgical intervention. If the degeneration is too advanced, chiropractors will assist in making the right referral.

What You Can Do

Taking good care of your spine and muscles can slow down and even help prevent the degeneration process. Just as you practice good dental hygiene and have regular dental checkups to prevent cavities, you can practice good “spinal hygiene” to avoid DDD. Seeing your chiropractor regularly and avoiding a sedentary lifestyle can help reduce or prevent DDD—movement is key to maintaining a healthy spine! Also, during a chiropractic evaluation, Chiropractors may be counted on to catch DDD in its early stages before it produces major symptoms.

If you’re concerned about DDD, chiropractors can help. Keep in mind that chiropractic visits are important even when you don’t have symptoms because they can catch problems you may not realize are there and stave off future problems.

More Conditions Treated 

Dr. James Fraser

Doctor of Chiropractic