What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that occurs when the discs between your vertebrae (bones) in your spine start to break down due to age, injury, or natural wear and tear. It is a common cause of lower back pain and can lead to other chronic health issues if not managed properly.
What Are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease vary depending on the severity of the condition and can include: lower back pain (which may be mild or severe), muscle spasms, difficulty standing for long periods or bending over, numbness or tingling in the legs or feet, decreased mobility, and loss of height due to shrinkage of the spine. In extreme cases, there may even be a weakness in the legs or feet.
If you suffer from degenerative disc disease (DDD), you may want to consider chiropractic care as a treatment option. Chiropractic care offers a less invasive treatment method that can help to substantially reduce the symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease.
When you meet with a chiropractor for the first time, they will want to determine if you have a true disc-related problem and from there determine the best course of treatment for your condition.
If back pain is your primary symptom from DDD, your chiropractor will want to determine what is the main cause of your pain. It could be that the degeneration in the spinal joint is disturbing the mechanics of the spine, the thinning degenerative discs could be bulging and putting pressure on the spinal nerves, or it may be spinal stenosis, which can cause both back and leg pain.
At your initial exam with your Chiropractor, you will go through a comprehensive exam which will also include going through your past medical history. The Chiropractor will determine areas of restricted joint motion, ligament injury, disc injury and muscle spasm with a few simple test.
Typically your Chiropractor will look at your overall posture and see how you walk to assess how your spine moves and to better understand the mechanics of your body. Sometimes, further testing may be needed, including X-Rays or an MRI.
After the examination and any follow up testing, your chiropractor will be able to provide you will a diagnosis and you will work together to develop a treatment plan to help reduce the symptoms you are experiencing with DDD.
Types of Chiropractic Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease
There are several beneficial treatments that can be used by a Chiropractor to help improve spinal motion and help to reduce inflammation. If you suffer from more advanced disc degeneration, your Chiropractor may also work to improve the function of the inter-vertebral disc.
A typical form of treatment used by during chiropractic care to help treat the symptoms of DD is spinal manipulation or spinal adjustment. There are many types of spinal manipulation. Below are some of the most common ones:
- Specific Spinal Manipulation: A thrusting technique is used to work and restore movement to any joints that are restricted or that show abnormal motion.
- Flexion-Distraction Technique: A gentle non-thrusting technique is used with this type of manipulation. Most often used to treat herniated disc and spinal stenosis.
- Instrument-Assisted Manipulation: A hand held instrument is used by your Chiropractor to apply gently force without thrusting directly on the spine.
Manual therapy may also be used to help treat DDD symptoms. Types of manual therapy techniques include:
- Trigger Point Therapy: Direct pressure is applied to tight, painful point s on a muscle to help relieve the pressure.
- Therapeutic Massage: Massage can be used to help reduce muscle tension within your back, neck and other painful areas.
Other types of therapy to help reduce inflammation caused by DDD may also be used by your Chiropractor. These can include:
- Inferential Electrical Stimulation: To help reduce inflammation in your muscle, a low frequency electrical current is used for simulation.
- Ultrasound: Ultrasound is used to help reduce muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain by sending sound waves deep into your muscle tissues. A gentle heat is generated to help enhance circulation.
Through chiropractic treatment, your chiropractor will try to address all the symptoms related to your degenerative disc disease and try to provide relief. Chiropractors also work to treat you as a whole and may provide additional education on nutrition, stress management, and help you to identify lifestyle goals while treating your degenerative disc disease symptoms.