Degenerative disc disease is the term used to describe symptoms of back and neck pain that are caused by wear and tear on the spinal discs. These discs are found between each of the bones of your spine and act like mini shock absorbers, providing cushioning when we move and enabling you to bend, twist, and flex.
Each disc is made up of a tough outer shell and a softer, inner core. Initially, these discs are primarily made up of water which helps them to be spongy and flexible. However, as we age, they begin to dehydrate and become thinner, which makes them less able to absorb impacts and less efficient in helping us to move around. Over time, they may become thin and dehydrated enough to develop tiny cracks and tears. If these occur near any nerves, it can cause back pain. Cracks also enable some of the soft inner core of the disc to protrude or slip out of place. This is known as a herniated disc and can put pressure on surrounding nerves, also resulting in pain and other neurological symptoms.
Am I at Risk of Degenerative Disc Disease?
Although degenerative disc disease can affect people of any age, it is more likely to be experienced by people over the age of 40. This is because it is largely caused by age-related deterioration of the spinal discs. The spinal discs wear down as a result of the natural aging process.
Nevertheless, there are some factors that increase your risk of developing degenerative disc diseases. These include:
- Being overweight or obese (since this places additional stress on the discs)
- Being female (women are more likely to experience degenerative disc disease than men)
- Working a physically demanding job
- Suffering from an acute injury
The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:
- Neck pain
- Back pain
- Pain that comes and goes and may last for days, weeks, or months at a time
- Numbness or tingling in your arms and legs
- Pain that radiates down your lower back and into your buttocks
- Pain that gets worse when you are sitting, bending, or lifting
How is Degenerative Disc Disease Treated?
There are a few different treatment options that can help to ease the symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease. Wherever possible, doctors will recommend non-invasive treatment methods. These could include the following:
Medication can be useful in relieving pain and inflammation caused by degenerative disc disease. It’s essential that you take it exactly as directed. However, pain medication only helps with the symptoms of the condition, they do not treat the underlying cause.
Degenerative disc disease occurs in the spine, which is the focus of chiropractic care. In chiropractic techniques, the spine is adjusted so that the vertebrae alignment is correct, and this can reduce pressure on compressed and herniated spinal discs, reducing the symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease.
Exactly which chiropractic techniques are used may vary, but most instances will see your therapist create a treatment plan focused on spinal manipulations and decompression therapy. Decompression therapy is a type of motorized traction that releases pressure on the spine, stimulates blood flow through the spine, and encourages long-term healing.
Every patient is different which also means that treatment plans and lengths may vary depending on your individual needs. Speak to your chiropractic team at Mount Airy Chiropractic Center for more information.
To find out more about how chiropractic treatment can help treat degenerative disc disease, contact Mount Airy Chiropractic Center in Mount Airy, Maryland at (301) 829-1717 today.