How Can Chiropractic Help With Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is referred to typical wear and tear in the vertebral or spinal discs that occur with age. Most health professionals don’t even consider it as a disease but a normal accompaniment of growing old, however, even young people in their 20s or 30s may have early onset of these changes in their spines. People more at risk are overweight, smokers, who lift heavy weights, or those sustaining injury to spinal discs.

Spinal discs are the soft, compressible, pillow-like cushions present between your vertebras, hence, given the name intervertebral discs. These discs act as shock absorbers while you turn, twist, bend your neck and back or lift weights. Together with the vertebra, these discs form a secure tunnel; the spinal canal for passage of spinal cord and spinal nerves. With increasing age, spinal discs become thin as they dehydrate and lose their flexibility, softness, and shock absorbing abilities. Degenerative disc disease can affect any part of the spine but more commonly involved are cervical (neck) and lumbar (back) spine.

Degenerative results in pain along with other clinical presentations including: 1) Osteoarthritis, which causes breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that pads the joints for protection. 2) Herniated disc, it is an abnormal bulge of the disc between the vertebra. 3) Spinal stenosis, it is the narrowing of the spinal canal, thus causing pressure on spinal cord and spinal nerves.

These changes may cause pain in neck or back that may radiate to arms or legs, tingling and abnormal sensations in arms and legs and weakness of limbs.

Chiropractic is an effective treatment option for tackling degenerative disc disease. Your chiropractor starts by assessing whether your problems are indeed stemming from degenerative discs and also the extent of your condition including the signs of spinal stenosis, herniated discs, and others. A chiropractor uses manual tests as well as imaging studies such as X-rays and MRI for diagnosis and developing a treatment plan.

Primary goals of the Chiropractic management for DDD is to improve spinal motion and to stimulate circulation in the affected discs, soothing irritated nerves and reducing inflammation Your chiropractor may also work to improve functioning of intervertebral discs but only in cases in which disc degeneration is not advanced.

Your chiropractor may use Manual therapy including; trigger point therapy, manual joint stretching and resistance techniques, therapeutic massage or instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy.  Spinal adjustment techniques used in degenerative disc symptoms are:

  • Specific spinal manipulation for spinal joints identified with restricted motion
  • Flexion-distraction method; it makes use of non-thrusting technique primarily used to treat herniated discs and spinal stenosis
  • Instrument-assisted adjustments; chiropractor uses a hand-held instrument to apply gentle pressure avoiding direct thrusting force to the spine

Chiropractic follows a holistic approach; thus, your practitioner may well also give nutrition, lifestyle, and stress management advice in addition to the specific degenerative disc treatments.

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