What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease 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 may come into play including obesity, smoking, repeated physical work, and injury.
Degenerative Disc Treatment
While degenerative disc disease is a natural part of aging, there are things you can do to prevent pain and stay healthy. Pain caused by degeneration is often treated with hot or cold packs or an anti-inflammatory medication, however these do nothing to slow or stop future degeneration and may actually encourage further deterioration.
For problems like herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, or osteoarthritis, other forms of treatment are far more beneficial. Studies show that chiropractic treatment combined with a program of stretching increases mobility and reduces pain and stiffness. In addition to gentle spinal manipulation, we utilize physiotherapy modalities, nutritional supplements if indicated, and at-home exercise programs.
If you are experiencing frequent back or neck pain, be sure to visit our office for an examination so we can create a treatment plan for you.