Degenerative disc disease (DDD) refers to a specific type of medical condition that happens when the discs that support and cushion the spine’s vertebrae deteriorate and break down, losing water and their natural flexibility and causing pain and stiffness. The condition typically happens as a function of the aging process, although other factors – i.e., injury, genetics, repetitive stress - may lead to the development of this condition.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
The symptoms of degenerative disc disease vary. In fact, not every individual who is diagnosed with degenerative disc disease will experience every or all potential symptoms -
- Degenerative disc disease is characterized by persistent low back pain, which can be mild or fluctuate and become quite intense. The pain can be continuous or come and go, based on your activities. Actions that worsen degenerative disc disease symptoms include bending, lifting, and twisting. Resting or changing positions may provide temporary relief from the pain, as it reduces stress on the affected discs.
- Degenerative disc disease can create radiating pain and discomfort that extends through the buttocks and down one or both legs. Radiating pain in this area is usually caused by a compressed or irritated sciatic nerve.
- As the condition worsens and progresses, the compression on the nerves in the spine may cause numbness or weakness – ultimately impacting your coordination and mobility.
- A compressed nerve may also create prickly or tingling sensations.
Preventive Degenerative Disc Disease – A Proactive Approach
While the natural aging process contributes to DDD, there are ways to prevent or slow the condition’s progression or development, many of which are easily controlled by simple lifestyle adjustments.
Maintain a Healthy Weight
In addition to being a potential factor for other diseases, carrying excess weight puts added stress on your spinal discs, which may contribute to the development of DDD. Managing your weight can be done by choosing a balanced and nutritious diet, which includes staying appropriately hydrated because spinal discs mostly consist of water.
Practice Good Posture
Whether standing, sitting, or lifting, it is essential to be mindful of your posture. Poor posture can contribute to spinal disc stress and increase the risk of disc degeneration.
Stay Active to Stay Healthy – Stop Smoking
- Even low-impact exercise – i.e., yoga, swimming – that is practiced regularly will help strengthen core muscles supporting your spine.
- For those who have not already, it is beneficial to quit smoking, as this habit has been linked to the accelerated progression of DDD.
Choose Ergonomic Furniture for Work/Home
Invest in ergonomic furniture that offers proper support for your posture and also reduces strain on the spine.
- When lifting heavy objects, use proper techniques to reduce strain on the spine.
- Bend at the knees, not the waist, and lift with the leg muscles rather than the back.
Treating Degenerative Disc Disease – A Non-invasive Approach
Chiropractor treatment options will vary based on your overall health and the severity of the manifested symptoms. In addition to traditional spinal manipulations that can improve alignment and reduce pressure on the spine, many chiropractors specialize in alternative and complementary therapies that treat patients holistically – encouraging your body to access its natural healing abilities. These may include -
- Hot or Cold Therapies
- Ultrasound Therapies
- Massage Therapies
- Electrical Stimulation Therapies
Chiropractors offer valuable and insightful guidance regarding healthy lifestyle choices, like -
- Maintaining the recommended weight
- Using proper ergonomics and orthotics
- Incorporating gentle exercises and more.