Degenerative Disc Disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

If suffer from sharp chronic back or neck pain, or weakness or numbness in your arms or legs, you may have Degenerative Disc Disease.

Although labeled as a disease, Degenerative Disc Disease is actually a condition that worsens over time.  Spinal discs separate and cushion your vertebrae.  Over time these discs begin to break down, or degenerate.  The amount of fluid between the discs begins to decrease, causing more friction and discomfort.  The discs may dry out, thin or crack, or the core may bulge (or herniate) through the outer covering.

Degenerative Disc Disease has been found in patients as young as 10 years old, but the likelihood of experiencing it increases with age. A recent study found that lumbar disc degeneration was found in up to 16% of 20 years old, growing to 80% of patients over age 40 and 98% of those over 70 years old. 1-3

 Disc degeneration is often silent, only causes symptoms after it has progressed to the point of bringing significant pressure on the nerves at the area of degeneration.   Because of this and due to the fact that many people are not aware of the causes and symptoms of this disease, it often goes untreated. 

 What Happens if Degenerative Disc Disease is Not Treated

 Disc degeneration is often silent, only causes symptoms after it has progressed to the point of bringing significant pressure on the nerves at the area of degeneration.   Also, because many people are not aware of the causes and symptoms of this disease It often goes untreated.  Without proper care, degenerative disc disease can lead to:

  • Osteoarthritis:  the protective covering on the ends of the bones can wear down, damaging joints and causing pain in the joints of the neck, back, hips, knees, and hands.
  • Herniated Discs:  When the soft core of the spinal disc pushes through the exterior coating.  This can irritate nerves and result in pain, weakness, or numbness in the neck, back, arms or legs.
  • Spinal Stenosis:  Your body may compensate by creating bone growths called bone spurs.  These spurs can grow to replace the space occupied by the spinal cord, pinching the surrounding nerves, causing spinal stenosis.  These may cause weakness or numbness in the arms or legs.
  • Myelopathy:  If the spinal cord itself is compressed, you may have difficulty walking and could even experience a loss of bladder or bowel control.

How Can a Chiropractor Help Me with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Chiropractic adjustments redistribute the weight load on the spinal disc area, allowing more surface area to manage the stress and ease pressure on irritated nerves, relieving your pain.  Adjustments also improve motion and circulation, increasing the blood flow to the disc space, which allows it to renew and repair.  Chiropractic adjustments aim to improve joint mobility, restore range of motion, and improve body function.  Some of the techniques we use in our office to treat Degenerative Disc Disease include:

  •  Specific, Targeted Manual Adjustments

This involves direct manual force thrust on the specific spinal segment that is involved to move the vertebrae back into alignment, redistributing the weight load, relieving pressure on the nerve and allowing better circulation and range of motion.

  • Flexion Distraction Technique

This is a non-thrusting technique performed in our office on the highly advanced Cox segmented table, which gently stretches the involved areas to allow fluid and healing nutrients to return to the spinal disc area.  That gentle stretching combines with the movement of the table to stretch and decompress your spine.  The table allows the doctor to decompress the lumbar disc area while correcting the disc function.

  • Pulstar Computerized Instrument Assisted Adjustments

This is a gentle, very low force technique utilizing a computerized system.  The doctor directs multiple impulses to the area involved to reduce the restrictions in those areas and add more motion to the spinal segment.  Results are viewable on the computer screen.  Most patients report little to no discomfort with this method.

  • Mettler Interferential Electrical Stimulation

This technique gently contracts and relaxes the muscles in a specific pattern, stimulating local nerves, which reduces pain, and increases localized blood flow and reduces swelling, which helps restore damaged tissue and bring nutrients necessary for healing to the injured area.  It also opens up the ion channels near the disc space to remove fluid from the area.

Dr. Greenwood will attach four electrodes so that the two currents produced cross each other in the affected area.  Dr. Greenwood will adjust the strength of the current according your comfort level and may readjust that level during your therapy.  You will feel a tingling or ‘pins and needles’ sensation.

Most people really enjoy this therapy. Unlike a TENS unit, the effects of the Mettler professional unit lingers after the therapy is completed.

  • Computerized Spinal Decompression

Computerized Spinal Decompression can repair damaged discs and bring lasting pain relief by relieving the pressure that builds up on the discs.  It creates a kind of vacuum so that it draws the bulging disc material back into place and sucks the vital fluid and nutrients back into the targeted disc to rehydrate and re-nourish the disc so that it can heal.  It also strengthens the ligament bands so that they can begin to hold the disc in place again.

Dr. Greenwood uses the most advanced spinal decompression table, the Triton, which features a computerized unit with programmed patterns so that decompression will occur at the disc level and with the specific amount of pressure you need to experience healing and relief.

 Hope for Those Suffering From Degenerative Disc Disease

While there is no cure for Degenerative Disc Disease, chiropractic care can help be instrumental in improving your quality of life by relieving your pain, promoting healing, restoring your range of motion and slowing the progression of the degeneration.

If you are ready to enjoy better health and mobility, come in or call us today at 417-725-6655 and see how natural, drug free chiropractic care can help you. 

Isn’t it time YOU felt good again?

  1. Lawrence JS. Disc degeneration.  Its frequency and relationship to symptoms. Ann Rheum Dis. 1969:28:121-38
  2. Symmons DPM., Hemert AM, Vandenbrouke JP, et al.  a longitudinal study of back pain and radiological changes in the lumbar spines of middle-aged women: radiographic findings. Ann Rheum Dis. 1991:50:162-6
  3. Miller JA, Schmatz C, Schultz AD. Lumbar disc degeneration: correlation with age, sex, and spine level in 600 atuopsy specimens. Spine. 1988:13:173-8

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