Are You Taking Care of Your Back? Here’s How to Slow the Progression of Degenerative Disc Disease with the Full Range of Chiropractic Care and State of the Art Therapies
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is described as a deterioration of the spinal joints which disturb the mechanics of the spine and cause pain. In DDD the shock absorbing vertebral discs of the spine become fragmented, herniated or lose their cushioning ability. Patients with lumbar DDD often complain of weakness and pain which may or may not radiate into the limbs. The lower back pain associated with DDD tends to be exacerbated with body position and movement. There often may be no obvious symptoms though, in some cases, when the spine loses flexibility, bone spurs may pinch a nerve root and cause pain or weakness.
Traditional invasive strategies for attempting to stop or reverse DDD in the lumbar spine range from mechanical treatment options such as surgical removal of the disc and motion-eliminating fusion surgery(1) whether in a surgical decompression surgery or microdiscectomy which patients sometimes opt for. Whether minorly or very invasive both procedures have success rates in the U. S. of over half of the surgeries done.
Reasons for degenerative disc disease include:
Anatomy: Injuries over the years combined with loss of normal nervous system protective curves of the spine causes the body to start to fuse or disintegrate the disc. The process takes many years to go from mild to sever degeneration.
Aging: Water content of the disc decreases with age causing degeneration and the molecular composition changes in the disc. This causes a thinning of the disc which may cause bulging and put pressure on the spinal nerves or the area around the spinal cord.
Environmental factors: Manual labor, frequent bending or twisting, sports injuries, auto accidents, smoking and exposure to chemicals have all been found to contribute to DDD.
Genetics: Some of these factors also come into play. For example, scoliosis–abnormal curves in the spine–show in the research to speed up rates of DDD.
Chiropractic Treatments that Can Slow Down the Progression of Degenerative Disc Disease
Chiropractic care, which includes a whole array of non-invasive and pain-relieving therapies and techniques, can be very effective for treating DDD and we have realized excellent success in slowing down or stopping DDD and bringing our patients remarkable relief at Wagner Chiropractic. Our goal is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion and reducing inflammation. We may work on improving the function of the intervertebral discs provided your DDD is not in a very advanced stage. If it is advanced our program of care may help decrease your pain only.
We may utilize specific spinal manipulation with a gentle thrusting technique to target the restricted joints. In cases of herniated discs and spinal stenosis(2), we will employ instrument-assisted manipulation where gentle force is applied without thrusting directly into the spine. In severe DDD cases low force techniques like Activator Methods may be employed.
In addition to spinal manipulation, we have a variety of very effective manual therapies at our disposal including class III and class IV laser, shockwave therapy, interferential current therapy, electric anesthesia, ultrasound(5), physical rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise. And because chiropractors treat you as a whole person, we will most probably offer you nutritional, lifestyle and stress management counseling all of which play a role in the health of your spine, body and degenerative disc disease symptoms.
Don’t wait until you have allowed the slow process of degenerative disc disease to become a problem. A short treatment plan followed by regular maintenance adjustments can slow DDD and, in many cases, even stop it permanently.
Fusion surgery has also been found to increase the rate of degeneration at adjacent spinal motion segments.
an abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve pathway that results in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots
where the chiropractor places direct pressure on hyperirritable spots in the skeletal muscle to relieve tension
where a low frequency electrical current is used to stimulate your muscles to reduce inflammation
By sending sound waves deep into your muscle tissues, we enhance circulation and help reduce muscle spasms, stiffness, and pain.
Taher, Fadi, et al. “Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease: Current and Future Concepts of Diagnosis and Management.” Advances in Orthopedics, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2 April 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335178
Schroeder, Josh E., et al. "Disc degeneration after disc herniation: are we accelerating the process?” Evidence-Based Spine-Care Journal, U. S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2012, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3592777/