WHAT IS DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE?
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is not as much a disease as it is a name for the changes that can happen to the spine as we age.
Our discs are made of a tough, rubbery exterior and a soft interior. They sit between the vertebrae to act as shock absorbers. As we age, the spinal discs begin to degenerate. This can cause herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis.
DEGENERATIVE DISC SYMPTOMS
The degeneration of spinal discs may cause no symptoms at all, and symptoms depend on each patient and the severity of their case.
Pain may occur at the site of the affected disc in the back or neck. As the pain is often caused by compressed nerves, this pain can also travel to other areas of the body like the buttocks, arms, and legs. Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs may also be experienced. Pain can range from mild to severe and debilitating.
DEGENERATIVE DISC CAUSES
As mentioned previously, our spines can degenerate as a natural part of aging. Tears in the tougher outer layer of the disc are common as we grow older. and when the discs begin to lose fluid, they become smaller and less flexible.
In addition to aging, other factors that may come into play, including obesity, smoking, repeated physical work, and injury.
DEGENERATIVE DISC TREATMENT
The goal of chiropractic care for DDD is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion and reducing inflammation. The chiropractor may also work on improving the function of the intervertebral discs—but that’s only if you do not have advanced disc degeneration.
To help treat your DDD symptoms, your chiropractor may use spinal manipulation (also called spinal adjustment). There are multiple types of spinal adjustments, including:
- Specific spinal adjustment: Your chiropractor will identify the joints that are restricted or those that show abnormal motion. He or she will work to restore movement to the joints using a gentle thrusting technique.
- Flexion-distraction technique: This type of spinal manipulation uses a gentle, non-thrusting technique; it’s typically used to treat herniated discs and spinal stenosis.
- Instrument-assisted manipulation: This technique uses a hand-held instrument. The chiropractor applies gentle force without thrusting directly into the spine.
Manual therapies may also be used to help treat DDD symptoms. Examples of manual therapy techniques are:
- Trigger point therapy: The chiropractor identifies tight painful points on a muscle and puts direct pressure on these points to relieve tension.
- Manual joint stretching and resistance techniques: Your chiropractor may use one of these techniques to relieve pain and other DDD symptoms.
While degenerative disc disease is a natural part of aging, there are things you can do to prevent pain and stay healthy. If you are experiencing frequent back or neck pain, be sure to visit our office for a consult and examination so we can create a treatment plan for you.