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 is 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 herniate.
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 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.
Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms
Symptoms are most common in the lumbar spine (low back) or cervical spine (neck). The most common symptoms are:
- Pain that is mild to severe
- Pain that affects the low back, buttocks and thighs
- Pain that affects the neck that radiates into the arms and hands
- Pain worsened by sitting
- Pain worsened by lifting or bending and twisting of the waist
- Pain lessened by walking or moving
- Pain lessened 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)
Want to learn more about how we treat Degenerative Disc Disease? Give us a call for a consultation at (619) 313-5403.
Gentle Adjustments. Powerful Results.
Gentle NUCCA Chiropractors
Intouch Chiropractic | San Diego, CA
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