How Your Chiropractor Can Help with Degenerative Disc Disease
Wondering why you have a nagging pain in your back or neck? Your symptoms could be caused by changes in the discs in your spine, the rubbery structures that cushion the your vertebrae. Over time, spinal discs may break down, or degenerate, due to aging or injury. Chiropractic treatment offers an effective way to reduce pain, stiffness, and other degenerative disc disease symptoms.
What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?
Years of moving, twist, bending, running, and jumping take a toll on your spinal discs and can be a factor in degenerative disc disease. One-third of people aged 40-59 have moderate to severe degenerative disc disease, according to research from Hebrew SeniorLife's Institute for Aging and Boston Medical Center. Unsurprisingly, this rate increases in people 60 and older.
Water inside the discs helps keep them plump and healthy. As the water content decreases with age, the discs become flatter and don't provide quite as much cushioning when you bend, lift, or move.
Cracks and tears in discs are more likely to happen as discs flatten and dry out. Herniated discs can occur if the inner, jelly-like center of the disc protrudes through a tear in the tougher outer layer. Bulging discs press on nerves, triggering pain.
Aging isn't the only factor in degenerative disc disease. The condition may also be caused by obesity. Excess weight stresses every part of your body, including your spine. Although losing weight is always helpful, the damage may already be done if you were overweight or obese for several years.
Your discs could also degenerate due to an injury or fall, smoking, or your job. If your work requires frequent twisting or heavy lifting, you may be more likely to develop degenerative disc disease. Has a family member of yours been diagnosed with the condition? If so, you may be at increased risk for back or neck pain due to degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease symptoms range from mild to severe and can come and go. Symptoms may include:
- Back or Neck Pain
- Neck or Back Stiffness
- Trouble Bending or Twisting
- Numbness and Tingling in Arms or Legs, Depending on the Location of the Problem Disc
Chiropractic Treatments That Relieve Degenerative Disc Disease Pain
Your chiropractor offers several treatments that will reduce pain and stiffness, including:
- Massage Therapy. Massage loosens tight tissues and reduces inflammation in your back or neck. This therapy also boosts the production of natural hormones that ease pain and encourage relaxation.
- Spinal Manipulation. Spinal manipulation realigns the vertebrae in your neck or back, improving mobility and decreasing pain and stiffness.
- Flexion-Distraction Therapy. Conducted on a special moving table, this therapy stretches the spine, improves blood flow to the discs, reduces pressure on the discs and tissues, and decreases bulging if you have a herniated disc.
- Ultrasound Therapy. Ultrasound therapy creates heat that soothes and relaxes deep tissues and improves blood flow while relieving pain.
- Trigger Point Therapy. Trigger point therapy targets the hard knots in the muscles that can develop due to degenerative disc disease. Your chiropractor applies steady pressure that loosens and stretches the tight fibers in the muscle.
Chiropractic care may significantly improve your pain and quality of life, as illustrated by a report in the Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. The report detailed the effects of chiropractic care on a 74-year-old man with low-back pain and loss of feeling in his legs.
After two weeks of activator-assisted spinal manipulation treatment, the man reported that his back pain was gone. Activator-assisted spinal manipulation treatment involves using a small, handheld activator to realign the vertebrae.
Do you need help with your degenerative disc disease symptoms? Contact our office to schedule an appointment with the chiropractor.
Hebrew SeniorLife: One-Third of People Aged 40-59 Have Evidence of Degenerative Disc Disease, 5/18/2018
Journal of Chiropractic Medicine: Chiropractic Management of a Veteran with Lower Back Pain Associated with Diffuse Idiopathic Skeletal Hypertrophy and Degenerative Disk Disease, 12/2012
WebMD: What Is Degenerative Disk Disease?, 10/25/2023
American Chiropractic Association: Neck Pain