If you regularly feel pain in the neck and lower back areas, you could be suffering from degenerative disc disease (DDD). Most people shrug off the pain, but the truth is that DDD can cause muscle spasms so intense that they’re debilitating. The question is, what can you do about degenerative disc disease?
What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?
According to Spine Health, a leading online resource on understanding, preventing and treating spine-related conditions, degenerative disc disease “refers to symptoms of back or neck pain caused by wear-and-tear on a spinal disc.” As our body ages, so do the discs in our spine, resulting in a breadth of pain that ranges from acute to shooting and stabbing aches to intense, crippling muscle spasms.
Correcting a General Misconception
A general misconception that people have about degenerative disc disease is that with the progressive deterioration of our spinal discs, the pain and symptoms worsen. To correct this misconception, Kamper Chiropractic, a chiropractor in Woodbridge, VA, explains that you can experience severe pain even just at the onset of DDD and bearable pain even when the condition has worsened.
Regardless of the tolerability of pain caused by degenerative disc disease, seeking treatment is highly recommended. Having your DDD treated allows you to regain your freedom not only from pains and spasms but to move freely and go on with your day-to-day tasks.
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?
Dr. Patricia Andrews of the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors likens the spinal disc to a jelly donut where the jelly center is the nucleus pulposis, made up mostly of water that lubricates the spinal structure. The donut itself, or the external structure of the disc, is called the annulus fibrosis, made up mostly of collagen. As our body ages, the water in that jelly center diminishes, causing our spine to be fibriotic and brittle.
When this happens, the body turns on its defensive mechanism by developing spurs and producing thicker ligaments. The disc then narrows to compress the joints, which results in varying degrees of pain.
Can I Use a Chiropractor for Degenerative Disc Disease?
Definitely – the profession of chiropractic is centered on the spine and joints of the body, and how it works with our nervous system. The Palmer College of Chiropractic, founded by no other than the discoverer and proponent of chiropractic, David Daniel Palmer, advocates that this less conventional treatment focuses not on treating the symptoms of spine and joint illnesses but on getting to the root of the problem and how to fix it.
Chiropractic Diagnosis and Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease
The chiropractic diagnosis of degenerative disc disease starts with a thorough assessment of the presence of the condition – if you, indeed, have DDD, and the extent to which it has progressed. The assessment involves knowing the history of your condition, getting an X-ray, and in some cases, an MRI.
Once your chiropractor has properly diagnosed it as degenerative disc disease, the program for “adjustments” is mapped out. Adjustments are necessary not only to relieve pain, but also to correct the alignment of the spine.
Spinal manipulation is the primary thrust of the chiropractic treatment for degenerative disc disease. There are different kinds of spinal manipulation, each working on a target condition. Samples of spinal manipulation are:
- Specific adjustments. A chiropractor discovers restricted joints that exhibit irregularity in motion. The joints will be adjusted using a thrusting method in order to restore their natural range of movements.
- Flexion distraction therapy. This procedure reduces inflammation of the nerve root by stretching or “distracting” the spine in order to move the disc away from the affected nerve.
- Instrument assisted adjustments. This procedure makes use of advanced technology to introduce force to the spine without actually directly touching the spine.
- Trigger point therapy. A manual therapy where the chiropractor applies direct pressure on painful muscles in order to loosen tension.
- Sound waves are utilized to create heat to stimulate circulation in the inflamed muscles.
The chiropractic treatment of degenerative disc disease often involves a combination of two or more procedures and extends to therapy outside the chiropractic facility. An important part of treating DDD is maintaining and enhancing mobility by means of physical therapy exercises such as swimming and biking. It must also be reiterated that chiropractic treatment extends to a change in lifestyle to incorporate healthier habits such as a better sleeping routine, an active lifestyle and a healthier diet.
The spine is an extremely delicate part of our body, playing a vital role to support our weight and organs and to facilitate our motion. Don’t let degenerative disc disease take over the health of your spine and your freedom of motion. Chiropractic treatment is a safe and tested method to fully understand and treat the causes and symptoms of degenerative disc disease while protecting you from the harmful side effects of medication and invasive surgery.