Disc Degeneration | HealthMax

Disc Degeneration

Once upon a time I thought degeneration of the spine was something that only happened in old age. I have been in practice for over 13 years now, and unfortunately, degeneration is not limited to the older populations. Degenerative disc disease, also called DDD, can occur throughout the spine. Most common areas affected are the neck or the lower back. One thing I have found to be true when it comes to any degeneration is: you MUST keep your body aligned and moving in order to prevent more degeneration. The old saying, if you don’t use it, you lose it… well, that is so very true my friends.

Another favorite quote I like to use is from our old friend Isaac Newton. His law of motion states that an object (like your body) at rest remains at rest and an object in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by an opposite force. One way I like to interpret that, is if you do not move your body, it will want to stay in an unmoving position which can cause more breakdown. A body in motion will stay in motion!

Many people come into the office as new patients with something they want help with. Typically but not always, that thing is pain related. We take state-of-the-art digital x-rays at Healthmax to analyze and prepare a customized plan for what may be causing someone pain. With x-ray we can detect and diagnose degeneration. Spinal degeneration is a condition of the discs between the vertebrae to have loss of disc height, fragmentation of the vertebral body, spurring or extra bone growth which may pinch a nerve root just to name a few.

In the US, we have more than 3 million cases of spinal degeneration every year, so unfortunately, it is a very common disease. Although when we find and diagnose degeneration, I do have to tell my patients there is nothing we can do about the degeneration that is already there, BUT my goal is to help stop any further degeneration. How do I do that? Again it is all about keeping your body aligned and moving. Isn’t that what chiropractic care is all about… YES!!!

Let’s run through some symptoms someone may experience when they have DDD. Most commonly I see a loss of range of motion or flexibility. For example, if someone has DDD in their neck, their range of motion is typically limited in one or all of the cervical ranges. Another common symptom of DDD is when someone presents with “pinched nerve” type pain or weakness. Pain that shoots down an arm or leg, pins/needles type sensation or a reduced sensation all together like numbness are common symptoms of someone with DDD.

Ok, so how can we help? What’s the treatment for DDD? Chiropractic care is aligning the spine, finding the joints that are not moving, not aligned and putting them back into alignment. This also reduces interference to the nervous system reducing pain, numbness and/or tingling. At Healthmax we also like to pair our chiropractic adjustment with physical rehabilitation to improve posture, range of motion and strengthen. Most if not all doctors both medical and chiropractic will recommend physical rehabilitation and movement to help anyone suffering with DDD. Other things my patients have said that help is when the pain is really bad, ice helps. However, many patients claim heat feels best for advanced degeneration. Anti-inflammatory diets will help reduce inflammation throughout the body which has been shown to help reduce pain in joints, especially the joints that have degeneration. Anti-inflammatory supplementation is also something we recommend. The most common recommendations are omega-3 fatty acid (fish oils.) The best one on the market and that we carry at Healthmax is Innate Choice!

Ultimately if someone has advanced DDD, co-managing that patient with their primary care physician is something I always like to recommend. We can do a lot as chiropractors to help, and having their MD on board just makes the care team 3 people who care about getting the patient better!

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