What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Hello, everyone! This is Dr. Bob Salamon with Lowcountry Chiropractic. As always, I hope you’re doing well and staying healthy! In my last post, we discussed ways to care for your back and stay healthy at home. Today, we’ll be discussing degenerative disc disease, which is a condition in which a damaged disc causes pain. Despite its name, degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease– It is simply a condition that occurs when there are changes in the discs of the spine. This condition can occur due to the normal process of aging, but there are other causes, too. If you are interested in learning more about this condition, its causes, and how chiropractic care can help, you’re in the right place! Let’s get started.
To understand degenerative disc disease, we must first take a look at the spine. The spine is made up of 24 small bones called vertebrae. These vertebrae are stacked on top of one another to create the spinal column. In between each vertebra are intervertebral discs, which are soft, gel-like cushions that act as shock absorbers. Each disc is flat and circular, about an inch in diameter and one-quarter inch thick. They are made up of two components: the annulus fibrosus and the nucleus pulposus. To put it more simply, the annulus fibrosus is a tough and fibrous outer layer and the nucleus pulposus is a jelly-like inner layer. The discs are held in place by the ligaments connecting the spinal bones. Additionally, the top and bottom of each vertebral body are coated with an endplate, which is a structure that blends into the disc and helps hold it in place. Discs keep the spine stable, help you stand up straight, and help you go through everyday motions like bending.
Although intervertebral discs are described as shock absorbers, they are not as flexible or pliable as they may sound. When we are children, discs start as fluid-like sacs, but with the normal aging process, the blood supply to the discs has stopped. When the blood supply to the disc has stopped, the soft, inner material of the discs begins to harden, making the discs less elastic. By the time we reach middle age, the disks are tough and have a consistency of hard rubber. Because of this change, the outer protective lining of the discs becomes weaker and makes the discs more susceptible to injury. Additionally, since discs at this point do not have a blood supply, a disc cannot repair itself once it is injured.
Due to the normal wear and tear of aging, discs begin to break down and may not work as well. Almost everyone’s discs will break down over time, but this does not always cause pain. Pain associated with worn-out spinal discs is called degenerative disc disease. There are two predominant ways that the discs can change and cause degenerative disc disease:
Since disks can begin to wear away over time, degenerative disc disease is most common in older adults. This condition can develop in your 30s or 40s, and progressively worsen. In fact, after age 40, almost everyone has some disc degeneration, even if they do not develop symptoms. However, there are some factors that can increase your risk of developing this condition:
Once degenerative disc disease develops, it can worsen over time. Here are some common symptoms of this condition:
In some cases, usually more severe, degenerative disc disease can cause numbness or tingling in the arms and legs. Sometimes, the leg muscles may become weak, which is a possible sign of nerve damage.
Degenerative disc disease is diagnosed by analyzing medical history, conducting a physical examination, and most often by imaging scans, such as an MRI. Although discs cannot repair themselves, there are treatment options available that can help manage pain and stop further damage from occurring. A doctor will suggest treatment such as anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, or steroid injections to reduce inflammation and pain. In severe cases, a doctor may recommend surgery. However, another non-invasive option is chiropractic care. In fact, chiropractic care is often a preferred method of treatment among individuals with degenerative disc disease. The goal of treating degenerative disc disease with chiropractic care is to improve spinal motion and decrease inflammation.
Chiropractic treatment for degenerative disc disease may include chiropractic adjustments. A chiropractic adjustment is a procedure in which a chiropractor uses their hands to apply a controlled, sudden force to a spinal joint. The goal of a chiropractic adjustment is to realign parts of the vertebrae and remove any other interferences or subluxations. When a vertebra is misaligned, or your spine is subject to subluxations, this can prevent your body from undergoing its natural healing process. Misalignment and interferences such as subluxations put extra stress on the spine and can speed up the degenerative process. If you are interested in learning more about subluxations, check out one of my previous blogs!
A chiropractor might also use spinal manipulation to treat degenerative disc disease. Spinal manipulation is sometimes referred to as a spinal adjustment. There are several types of spinal manipulation techniques, including specific spinal manipulation. With this technique, a chiropractor will identify which joints in the spine are restricted or moving abnormally and use a gentle thrusting technique to restore movement. Another technique is called the flexion-distraction technique. This technique is performed on a specialized table that has segments that move as the chiropractor slowly manipulates the spine. The combination of spinal manipulation with the movements of the table helps stretch and decompress the spine, relieving pain.
Additionally, a chiropractor can recommend therapeutic exercises or certain types of massage that may help address your symptoms. Massage therapy goes hand-in-hand with chiropractic care– Chiropractic adjustments can be more effective when your muscles are relaxed. A chiropractor may also talk to you about nutrition, stress management, or other lifestyle changes that can help you maximize the benefits of your chiropractic adjustment and relieve symptoms of degenerative disc disease. In most cases, the earlier the stage of degenerative disc disease, the more successful treatment can be. However, chiropractic care can be extremely effective and beneficial even in the most extreme cases of degenerative disc disease.
As you can see, degenerative disc disease can be painful and even life-altering. Chiropractic care can help relieve and manage symptoms, as well as stop the progression of the deterioration of discs. If you have any further questions about degenerative disc disease or chiropractic care, feel free to reach out to us. I hope you found this article informative. If you or a loved one are suffering from any type of joint or back pain, you may benefit from chiropractic care. Consider reaching out to Lowcountry Chiropractic! We specialize in different chiropractic techniques, as well as both therapeutic and Swedish massage. Send us an email or give us a call and we’ll assess the situation and develop a long-term treatment plan to address your needs. We want to help you live a healthy and pain-free life– it’s what you deserve. As always, this is Dr. Bob and I have your back covered!
Leave a Reply.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
Dr. Bob Salamon
8988 University Blvd., Suite 104
North Charleston, SC 29406
M, W, F: 10:00AM - 1:00PM & 3:00PM - 6:00PM
Saturday: By Appointment Only
Closed T, Th, Sunday
Site designed by Creative Consulting
Site powered by MadeSimply