What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
There are many causes of Degenerative Disc Disease. In young and healthy people, spinal discs provide height between the vertebra and allow us to bend, flex, and twist our spine. Our discs act like shock absorbers between our spinal bones and help us stay flexible. Some healthcare professionals argue that degenerative disc disease and a reverse cervical curve are part of the aging process. We disagree. We have seen young people with “old looking” spines and older adults with “young looking” spines. Regardless of age, when degeneration sets in, our spinal discs shrink, become brittle and lose their integrity and begin to bulge or there’s disc herniation.
The amount of trauma our spine has received throughout life shows up as wear and tear on our spines. In some cases of disc degeneration, the disc space becomes so compromised that the face joints of the vertebra rub against each other causing extreme pain. Spinal stiffness is also a common symptom of degeneration, especially in the morning or after being in the same position for an extended period of time. Unlike other body tissues, there is very little blood supply to the disc making it difficult for the body to repair the disc on its own.
Causes of Degenerative Disc Disease
Repetitive activities that cause micro-tears in the outer core of the disc (annulus fibrosis) are just as common as acute injures. This can be perplexing to patients, as one day they feel fine and the next day their back “goes out.” In reality, the problem has been building until a minor twist of the waist creates massive back and hip pain. In contrast, an acute injury that shears the disc and causes the nucleus pulposus to be expelled into the central canal or spinal nerve foramen happens in one incident. These issues can also lead to nerve damage putting you at risk for developing neuropathy.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
Symptoms are most common in the lumbar spine (low back) or cervical spine (neck). The most common symptoms are:
- Mild to severe pain
- Pain that affects the low back, buttocks and thighs
- Neck pain that radiates into the arms and hands
- Pain worsened by sitting
- Pain worsened by lifting or bending and twisting of the waist
- Walking or moving reduces pain
- Less pain by laying down or by changing positions often
- Pain that comes and goes, lasting a few days to a few months
- Numbness and tingling in arms and hands
- Numbness and tingling in the thighs, legs, and feet
- Weakness in the leg or arm muscles (caused by nerve root damage)
Treatment of Degenerative Disc Disease
Non-Surgical Spinal Decompression slowly decompresses and relaxes your spine by cycling through relaxation and distraction phases. During your non-surgical spinal decompression session, downward forces of gravity are removed, creating negative intradiscal pressure and a vacuum effect. The cycles of distraction and relaxation promote the diffusion of oxygen, water, and nutrient-dense fluids from the outside to flow back into your disks. These nutrients enable the torn and degenerated disc fibers to begin to heal.
Want to learn more about Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment? Give us a call for a consultation at (619) 756-7510.
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