Degenerative Disc Disease and Chiropractic Care
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is used to describe the symptoms of neck or back pain caused by the wear-and-tear of a spinal disc from everyday use. While its name includes the word “disease,” it is actually a condition. Natural and age-related deterioration of a disc can cause instability, numbness, hot and/or shooting pain in the legs and arms, chronic pain in the neck and back, and many other symptoms. It includes mild chronic pain with sporadic and occasional episodes of more severe pain.
It largely occurs in the neck (cervical area of the spine) and the lower back (lumbar area of the spine). Your neck and lower back experience the most motion and the most stress. This makes them easier targets for disc degeneration. The positive about degenerative disc disease is that it usually does not result in a life-long disability and can often be managed using non-surgical treatments, including chiropractic adjustments and decompression therapy.
By taking preventative measures with chiropractic care, you can address this condition before it becomes something more serious. The most important thing to remember is that degenerative disk disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis are closely related. This means that when left unchecked and ignored, wear and tear on a disc can lead to more severe symptoms and pain if it progresses to spinal stenosis or osteoarthritis.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
At Connected Chiropractic, we understand that degenerative disc disease can be worsened by causes related to the 3 T’s: traumas, toxins, and thoughts.
Even though a degenerating disc does not always cause pain or other likely symptoms, it can quickly reach that point when the wear-and-tear affects other spinal structures like muscles, joints, or nerves. When degenerative disc disease causes pain, it is generally because of two main problems – inflammation and instability.
- Inflammation: Spinal discs contain inflammatory proteins within their center that can leak as they wear out. This results in swelling in the surrounding areas. Swelling will then lead to other issues such as muscle tension and spasms as well as tenderness. If a nerve is affected in the neck or back, it could result in numbness and pain that radiates into the shoulder, arm, hip, or leg.
- Instability: The discs located within the spine provide a cushion for your vertebrae and support that allows for proper movement. When the outer layer of the disc begins to degenerate, it causes unnatural and uneven motions between the vertebrae. Irritation and tension in the surrounding joints, muscles, and nerves will occur if your vertebrae are not able to move properly. As the spine becomes less stable, it can result in a pinched nerve or other issue that causes intermittent episodes of intense pain.
Some individuals are more prone to degenerative disc disease than others. Some of the risk factors and causes outside of inflammation and instability that result in symptoms include
- Excess of activities that involve bending, twisting, or lifting something heavy
- Maintaining a sitting or standing position for extended periods of time
- Looking down at a cellular device, tablet, or book for too long
Ways to help with this include changing positions more frequently and adjusting the positions you must do throughout the day. Stretch your neck or take short, frequent walks during the day. Sitting in a reclined position, lying down with a pillow underneath your knees, and using a cervical pillow to help with the natural curve in your neck will also help reduce symptoms.
Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis, and Stenosis
Degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis are closely related in the fact that oftentimes, the wearing out of spinal discs leads to more serious problems. Two of the main ones are spinal stenosis and osteoarthritis. It can also result in scoliosis (internal link to scoliosis page). Spinal stenosis is the result of nerve or spinal cord pinching due to spinal degeneration. As a disc narrows or shrinks, the bony openings between vertebrae get smaller and reduce the space around the nerves running through them. This causes nerves to be compressed or “squished” resulting in pain (both severe and chronic), numbness, tingling, poor coordination, and/or bowel/bladder dysfunction.
In certain individuals, degenerative disc disease can cause the spinal discs to reduce so significantly that the vertebrae rub against each other during movement. The resulting pain is a symptom of osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is one of the most common forms of arthritis. It is the result of the loss of cartilage in joints. Your spine contains facet joints that are helped and protected by your discs. If the cartilage on the end of the bones in your spine rub together too much, it eliminates the protection and results in those bones rubbing directly against one another. This causes pain, irritation, and inflammation with movement…too much of this and you could have serious injury and lack of movement all together.
How Can Connected Chiropractic Address Degenerative Disc Disease, Osteoarthritis, and Stenosis?
The goal at Connected Chiropractic in Johnstown is to identify degenerative disc disease and evaluate its progression, tailor a care plan that meets your individual needs, and ensure that it does not lead to bigger problems in the future. We want to reduce the chronic pain, prevent flare-ups of more severe pain, and allow your spinal discs to heal naturally to prevent further degeneration.
Connected Chiropractic’s Board-Certified Chiropractor has successfully aided patients with degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis and is prepared to help you too…all through non-invasive and drug-free Chiropractic Care:
- Chiropractic adjustments realign the spine to relieve muscle tension, reduce the likelihood of muscle spasms, remove pressure on the spinal nerves, and relieve joint tension. Adjustments reduce chronic pain, discourage severe pain occurrences, improves mobility, and encourages the nerve pathways to improve.
- Massage Therapy also helps regulate degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis symptoms. It reduces muscle tension, stiffness in the body, and joint pain.
- Heat and Cold Therapy can also help with common symptoms. Applying an ice pack to an area that is experiencing pain can provide relief by reducing inflammation. Heat from a heating pad or hot bath can relax the muscles, reducing muscle tension and spasms.
- Supplements provide the body with materials that encourage and help with disc growth and repair. They can also decrease inflammation. Our skilled chiropractor can make recommendations on what supplements and vitamins can work best for you if you are suffering from degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis.
- Decompression Therapy uses gentle stretching to change the force applied to the spine and to adjust the position of the spine. This takes the pressure off of the spinal discs and removes nerve pinching that can occur from degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis. As a result, water, nutrient-rich fluids, and oxygen can move into the newly created space within the discs and they can heal naturally.
- TENS Units can provide relief for muscle spasms by interrupting the signals being sent through the affected area. They send their own electric pulses through the body that can minimize pain signals and reset the muscles.
- Exercise Therapy can help the spine heal and prevent further recurrences of pain. Certain stretches can decrease tension while improving flexibility and range of motion. Strengthening exercises can improve the muscles around the neck and low back area to help restore stability around the spine. Aerobic exercises help keep the joints and muscles active while encouraging the flow of nutrients and oxygen to spinal structures.
- Lifestyle Advice can also be provided to improve your overall health, and therefore, the health of your spine and muscles. Easy examples would be to avoid nicotine, excess alcohol, and non-ergonomic furniture. Our Chiropractor can recommend what is right for your living style and activities.
Address degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and stenosis before it creates a permanent issue and affects your daily life. Be proactive with your health and start naturally healing! Call, text, or schedule an appointment online today by clicking on the “Schedule Healing Now” button below.
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