What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

what is degenerative disc disease

Are you experiencing back pain symptoms? Wondering if it could be related to something called degenerative disc disease? Let’s break it down. As chiropractors in Glen Carbon, we’ve seen many patients dealing with this condition. In this blog post, we’ll explore what degenerative disc disease is, its risk factors, symptoms, diagnosis, potential cures, and prevention tips. If you need a reliable chiropractor Glen Carbon help, we’ve got you covered!

Defining Degenerative Disc Disease

So, what is degenerative disc disease? Simply put, it’s a condition where the intervertebral discs in the spine degenerate or break down over time. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, providing flexibility and shock absorption to the spine. When they deteriorate, it can lead to various problems, including back pain symptoms.

Risk Factors for Degenerative Disc Disease

Several factors can increase the risk of developing degenerative disc disease. These include the following:

  • Aging: As we age, the discs in our spine naturally lose water content and elasticity, making them more prone to degeneration.
  • Genetics: There’s evidence to suggest that genetics play a role in the development of degenerative disc disease. If you have a family history of spine-related problems, you may be at a higher risk.
  • Smoking: Smoking has been linked to accelerated disc degeneration. The chemicals in tobacco can disrupt the flow of nutrients to the discs, leading to premature wear and tear.
  • Obesity: Carrying excess weight puts added pressure on the spine, increasing the risk of disc degeneration. In addition, obesity is often associated with a sedentary lifestyle, which can further contribute to spinal issues.
  • Certain Occupations: Jobs that involve heavy lifting, repetitive movements, or prolonged sitting can place strain on the spine and accelerate disc degeneration. Workers in industries such as construction, nursing, or manufacturing may be at higher risk.

While we can’t control some of these factors like aging or genetics, lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking and maintaining a healthy weight can help reduce the risk.

What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?

back pain

The symptoms of degenerative disc disease can vary from person to person. However, common symptoms include: 

  • Persistent Back Pain: One of the hallmark degenerative disc disease symptoms is persistent back pain that may worsen with movement or prolonged sitting. This pain is often described as dull, achy, or throbbing and may spread to the buttocks, hips, or legs. 
  • Numbness: Individuals with degenerative disc disease may experience numbness or a “pins and needles” sensation in the extremities, such as the arms or legs. This numbness may come and go or be constant and can vary in severity. 
  • Tingling: Tingling sensations, also known as paresthesia, may accompany degenerative disc disease. This sensation is often described as a prickling or “creeping” feeling and may occur in the arms, hands, legs, or feet. 
  • Weakness: Weakness in the muscles of the extremities can occur if degenerative disc disease affects the nerves in the spine. This weakness may manifest as difficulty lifting or gripping objects, walking, or performing daily activities.

It’s essential to note that these symptoms can overlap with other spinal conditions, so proper diagnosis is crucial. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation and appropriate management.

How is DDD Diagnosed?

Diagnosing degenerative disc disease typically involves a combination of medical history, physical examination, and diagnostic tests. Your healthcare provider may ask about your symptoms, perform a physical exam to assess your range of motion and nerve function, and order imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans to visualize the spine and identify any disc abnormalities.

Can Degenerative Disc Disease Be Cured?

chiropractic lower back treatment

One common question patients ask is: Can degenerative disc disease be cured? While there is no definitive cure for degenerative disc disease, different treatment options can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life. These may include:

  • Physical Therapy: Physical therapy involves exercises, stretches, and manual techniques aimed at improving strength, flexibility, and mobility in the spine. Physical therapists tailor treatment plans to individual needs, focusing on relieving pain and restoring function.
  • Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic care focuses on spinal manipulation and adjustments to ease pain, improve spinal alignment, and improve overall health. Chiropractors may also incorporate other treatments such as massage, electrical stimulation, or ultrasound therapy.
  • Medication: Over-the-counter or prescription medications may be prescribed to manage pain and inflammation associated with degenerative disc disease. Common medications include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and pain relievers.
  • Injections: Injections such as corticosteroids or local anesthetics may be given directly into the affected area of the spine to reduce inflammation and ease pain. These injections can provide temporary relief and may be used in conjunction with other treatments.
  • Surgery: In severe cases where conservative treatments have failed to provide relief or there’s significant nerve compression, surgery may be recommended. Surgical options may include discectomy, spinal fusion, or artificial disc replacement. The goal of surgery is to decompress the affected nerves, stabilize the spine, and improve overall function.

The choice of treatment depends on different factors such as the severity of symptoms, individual preferences, and medical history.

Can Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Be Cured?

Cervical degenerative disc disease, affecting the neck region, follows a similar treatment approach as lumbar degenerative disc disease. While there’s no cure, conservative treatments like physical therapy and chiropractic care can ease the symptoms and improve mobility. In rare cases where conservative measures fail, surgical intervention may also be necessary to tackle severe symptoms or complications.

Prevention Tips

While we can’t completely prevent degenerative disc disease, certain lifestyle modifications can help reduce the risk and slow down its progression. Maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding smoking, practicing good posture, and engaging in regular exercise to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine are essential preventive measures.

Contact Infinite Wellness Integrative Medical Center

If you’re experiencing back pain symptoms or suspect degenerative disc disease, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Infinite Wellness Integrative Medical Center. Our team of healthcare professionals specializes in spine care and can provide personalized treatment plans to tackle your specific needs. Whether you’re seeking chiropractic care or a piece of advice, we’re here to help you achieve optimal spinal health and overall well-being. Contact us today at (618) 747-3200 or fill out an online form to schedule an appointment.


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