What is degenerative disc disease?
Degenerative disc disease gradually develops over time as spinal discs break down. Degenerative changes in discs are related to age and the cumulative wear-and-tear from years of bearing weight, injury, and misuse.
Since each disc fills the space between the bones (vertebrae) that form your spine, their degeneration affects the structure and function of the spine. Some people with disc degeneration never develop symptoms, some only have mild pain, and others will experience very intense pain.
While degenerative disc disease can occur anywhere along the spine, it most commonly develops in the lumbar spine (or lower back). Once a disc begins to deteriorate, it doesn’t heal. You can’t reverse the degeneration process, but with chiropractic care you’ll alleviate the pain and may stop degeneration from getting worse.
What is the difference between disc degeneration and bone degeneration?
Spinal discs are unique structures that have an inner gelatinous core surrounded by a tough outer cover. They’re tucked between vertebra, where they serve as shock absorbers and prevent the vertebral bones from rubbing together every time you move.
Discs degenerate on their own regardless of the health of the surrounding vertebral bones. For example, the discs may slowly lose water as they age, or small tears can develop in the outer covering that allow the gel-like center to squeeze out.
However, disc degeneration can cause or hasten bone degeneration such as:
- Spinal stenosis: Spine degeneration that leads to pinched nerves
- Osteoarthritis of the spine: Bone rubs against bone due to loss of cartilage
- Spondylolisthesis: Facet joints on vertebrae degenerate, causing spinal misalignment
How does chiropractic care relieve pain caused by disc degeneration?
Chiropractic manipulation and spinal decompression can realign the vertebrae, which improves motion, relieves pain, and frees blood flow that may have been interrupted by a degenerated disc. As a result, more nutrients and fluids flow into the area, while wastes flow out.
Physical therapy also helps treat degenerative disc disease. Structured exercise is used to increase flexibility of the spine and to strengthen and stretch the lower back muscles.
Many different techniques are available to relieve degenerative disc disease. Depending on the severity of your conditions, Dr. Colopy may perform or recommend:
- Trigger point therapy
- Manual joint stretching techniques
- Spinal Decompression
- Personalized home exercise program
- Take home personal EMS units