What is Degenerative Disc Disease and How Can Chiropractic Help?

With all the stress and adventure of everyday life, it makes sense that your spinal discs begin to degenerate as you age. In fact, by the age of 60, 90% of people will experience some level of disc degeneration — but it doesn’t have to be painful. With early intervention and regular chiropractic care, you can regulate your symptoms and encourage healing from degenerative disc disease.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative disc disease is less of an illness and more of a progressive condition that worsens over time. Your spine is comprised of alternating layers of vertebrae and discs with nerves intertwined. Spinal discs are soft on the inside with a tough exterior that provide cushion, flexibility, and support to the entire column.

Over time, these discs lose strength or elasticity, which hinders the range of motion and compresses the nerves causing pain and inflammation. Ultimately, degeneration results from fluid loss in the discs, which reduces flexibility, as well as tears and cracks, which can cause the jellylike material to bulge out or the discs to rupture or break.

Causes of Disc Degeneration

Along with aging, several factors can contribute to the development of this condition.

  • Accident or injury
  • Uncorrected misalignments
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary living, such as office work
  • Poor diet
  • Strenuous exercise or activity

What are the Signs of Disc Degeneration?

Depending on the location of your affected discs, the severity of your condition, and your lifestyle habits, you may experience a range of symptoms, ranging from mild to extreme:

  • Lower back pain
  • Decreased mobility
  • Pain in the extremities
  • Discomfort when bending and twisting
  • Stiffness after laying or sitting for long periods

In some cases, patients may not experience any pain, but treatment is still essential to a comfortable life as you age.

How to Treat Degenerative Disc Disease with Chiropractic Care

Because degenerative disc disease stems from your musculoskeletal system, chiropractic care is an obvious treatment option for relief and comfort. At your initial visit, your chiropractor in Bend will complete a comprehensive exam, including collecting your medical history and symptoms and analyzing your full spinal column for misalignments and other issues. In rare cases, you may need to receive x-rays and additional testing.

After identifying subluxations and areas of concern, your chiropractor will begin your adjustment using these common techniques:

  • Spinal manipulation – Using gentle thrusting techniques, your chiropractor will restore alignment and mobility in affected joints.
  • Flexion-distraction – This non-thrusting method gently corrects the curvature of your spine to treat herniation and spinal stenosis.
  • Instrument-assisted manipulation – This technique uses a small handheld instrument to apply gentle pressure and correct joints without thrusting.
  • Decompression – The use of mild, firm pressure brings space between the vertebrae and increases blood flow to encourage healing.

These methods help improve blood circulation to deliver nutrients to the affected discs and stimulate regeneration, relieve irritation in the nerves, and improve joint mobility by decreasing inflammation. By realigning your spine, your chiropractor helps remove added stress and pressure off of the spine and impacted nerves, both of which can speed the development of degenerative disc disease.

There is no cure for degenerative disc disease, but coupled with massage therapy and proper nutrition, the holistic treatment provided by chiropractic care can help promote regeneration and restore comfort to your daily routine. The chiropractors at Total Body Chiropractic & Massage in Bend create well-rounded solutions that keep you balanced and healthy.