What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is not as much a disease as it is a name for the changes that can happen to the spine when placed under abnormal mechanical stress over time.
Our discs are made of a tough, rubbery exterior and a soft interior. They sit between the vertebrae to act as shock absorbers. Over time, we have more opportunity to induce abnormal mechanics (subluxations) to our spine and related tissues. This, in turn, can weaken the area and herniated discs, bulging discs, spinal stenosis, and osteoarthritis.
Degenerative Disc Symptoms
The degeneration of spinal discs may cause no symptoms at all. Symptoms depend on each patient and the severity of their case.
Pain may or may not occur at the site of the affected disc in the back or neck. As the pain is often caused by irritation to the nerves, this pain can also travel to other areas of the body like the buttocks, arms, and legs. Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs may also be experienced. Pain can range from mild to severe and debilitating.
Degenerative Disc Causes
With weakening or over-stressed tissues, tears in the tougher outer layer of the disc can occur. Disc can also lose their fluid content and become smaller and less flexible.
Other factors that contribute to degeneration include: including obesity, smoking, repeated physical work, and injury.
Degenerative Disc Treatment
The goal with degenerative disc treatment is to restore proper mechanics to the area to reduce the abnormal mechanical stress that is the root cause of the degeneration. Treatment should include chiropractic adjustments for this reason. Other treatments that may be utilized include: decompression, acupuncture, nutritional supplementation, and therapeutic exercise. Conservative care can be effective in most mild to moderate disc cases.