Degenerative Disc Disease
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is a process whereby the discs between the bones degenerate or wear down faster than usual. It is essentially a wear and tear process. When the discs are thinner than usual, you lose the natural shock absorption properties that the discs normally posses. When the holes where the nerves exit shrink they can become irritated and send pain down your arm or leg depending on the nerve involved. Below you will find an illustration of degenerative disc disease as well as a real MRI showing some degeneration as well as degeneration with herniation.
Not all degenerative disc disease(DDD) requires treatment. Some patients live with DDD and don’t have pain. Many times, however patients complain of persistent back pain symptoms that can be associated with DDD. Traditional treatments can involve medications, physical therapy, spinal injections, chiropractic, and even surgery in some cases. Surgery should always be the last resort and thankfully only a very small percentage of patients have to resort to surgery for their pain.
Ultimately, the treatment options all have their pros & cons. The focus of any treatment that has potential to arrest or reverse the degeneration (mild cases) is to restore function. The discs gain their nourishment from movement and absorb water when pressure is decreased. If a patient endures constant increased pressure due to scar tissue or muscle tightness, the disc can lose its ability to absorb water. This causes the accelerated degeneration which can lead to pain.
Patients with symptomatic DDD should be evaluated by a doctor who understands spinal biomechanics and has the tools necessary to restore function to the disc. Proper conservative treatment can prevent more severe problems in the future and provide a much improved quality of life.
To learn more about conservative treatment options for degenerative disc disease issues, feel free to provide your contact information and we will mail you our “Severe Back, Sciatica, & Disc Pain Guide” and our “Severe Back Pain Exercise Guide” FREE of charge. These guides will further educate you about conservative treatment options related to disc problems.