Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a very common medical condition that affects a large and growing portion of the population. In fact, the low back pain that often accompanies DDD is the leading cause of disability in people under age 45. DDD has long been recognized as a difficult condition to treat, and many patients undergo invasive, expensive and risky surgical procedures every year in an effort to find relief.
Disc degeneration is the thinning of the intervertebral disc, the pad of cartilage sitting between the bones of your spine.
As disc degeneration progresses, its thinning results in a narrowed spinal canal space, possible facet joint irritation, and bone spur development on the bony vertebrae that can be painful. Surprisingly, some people who have degenerative disc disease have no pain or symptoms, but those who do have pain, seek care. Dr. Clark is here to help you with gentle, chiropractic Cox Technic Flexion Distraction and Decompression.
Degenerative disc disease or disc degeneration can happen in any part of the spine and often if it is in one part of the spine, it will be found in another area too.
Part of the reason DDD can be difficult to treat is that disc degeneration itself is not really a distinct diagnosis at all. Rather, DDD refers more generally to a breakdown of the spongy cartilage discs that separate and cushion your vertebrae. This breakdown is most often caused by normal changes that occur as part of the aging process. While a majority of people will experience these changes pain-free, an estimated 85 percent of the population will show evidence of some disk degeneration by the time they reach age 50. This means that there are two important things to keep in mind when it comes to DDD:
- Most people will eventually have disc degeneration even if they do not have symptoms.
- The fact that some degeneration is apparent in diagnostic imaging does not necessarily mean that DDD is actually responsible for your symptoms (pain, reduced mobility, etc.).
Causes of spinal disc degeneration
Risk factors of spinal disc degeneration include smoking, obesity, and genetics. A fall can also cause the degeneration process to begin. Our spinal discs break down as we age. This can lead to fluid loss in the spinal discs, which reduces their ability to act as shock absorbers. They can become bulged, ruptured, or fractured. When this happens, the distance can narrow between the vertebrae, resulting in less stability in the spine. Then, the body develops bone spurs or osteophytes, which add pressure to the spinal nerve roots and can affect nerve function.
Symptoms of degenerative disc disease
Some patients do not experience pain when there has been damage to the spinal discs. Others may experience back or neck aches. When the disc in the neck area is affected, the pain may originate in the neck or arm. When the damaged disc in is in the lower back, the back, buttock, or leg may hurt. Movements such as reaching up, twisting, or bending can cause more pain.
At Macomb Spine Care Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy has also proven to be effective for many patients. This treatment involves gently separating the vertebrae to reduce pressure on the spinal discs and encourage nutrients and water to flow back into them.
Call today at 586-228-1500 or fill out our online contact form to schedule an appointment with Dr. Clark at Macomb Spine Care. We look forward to helping you achieve optimum wellness, eliminate pain and feel better.