Millions of adults suffer from a painful condition called DDD for short. The letters stand for degenerative disc disease, and the condition can range from slightly to severely painful. People who suspect they have DDD or have heard about it and wonder if they are at risk of getting it should consider the following information as a general guide. Always consult with your chiropractor before taking any action, buying supplements, or attempting to treat yourself.
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Consider the fact that entire textbooks have been written on degenerative disc disease, which means that a short definition will by necessity only offer a glimpse of the condition. In any case, DDD is loosely defined as spinal pain caused by natural and sometimes not-so-natural changes in your vertebral discs. When those changes lead to pain, you are likely suffering from degenerative disc disease.
Your spine’s discs act to absorb the routine shocks to the body and prevent the bony vertebra from bumping against each other. The mechanism of action is akin to your car’s shock absorbers, which work to keep the axle from dangerously rubbing against the chassis every time you hit a bump.
It’s because you have spinal discs that you are able to play sports, walk, run, swim, twist, and bend over. If you have no discs, or is some of them were damaged, those actions could bring great pain. Unfortunately, the march of time affects us all. As we age, these all-important little discs begin to show signs of wear.
For some people, the wear is excessive and the discs break, fall out of place, or otherwise stop working properly. Keep in mind that some people live pain free even with damaged discs just because of the way their bodies are constructed. They are the lucky ones among us because the grand majority of adults have at least some pain-related disc problems as they reach old age.
But as far as the definition of DDD, you are said to be suffering from it if any of your discs, even one of them, causes pain in your body. More important than the definition is finding out the cause of DDD if you have it, and deciding how to treat this sometimes chronically painful, debilitating condition.
What Causes DDD?
Dozens of things can lead to degenerative disc disease, but chiropractic physicians, who are considered specialists in the field of DDD diagnosis and treatment, point to four main culprits that typically cause the condition, namely:
- Dehydration of the discs: When we are at our young, healthy peak of life, our discs are mostly composed of fluid. Later on, the spinal discs begin to dry out, crack, become dislodged, and otherwise become non-functioning.
- Rigorous activity: People who take part in “rigorous” sports like football, rugby, boxing, and similar endeavors are much more likely to present with DDD after age 60, sometimes sooner.
- Age: Chiropractors say age is the single “catch-all” cause of DDD because advancing years tend to bring on many of the other factors that directly result in degenerative disc disease.
- Injuries to the spine: Just about any spine-related injury can lead to swelling, generalized soreness, and bodily instability, all of which can ultimately cause DDD.
It’s a fact that some people are more susceptible to DDD than others, just as some of us never get the flu, never get cancer, and never have headaches. There’s a possibility that genetics plays some role in who is more likely to get DDD, but for now, the four causes listed above are considered the main protagonists.
What are the Common Symptoms of DDD?
There are lots of DDD symptoms but most of them are related to where the non-functional disk is located and what types of physical changes it has created by being “out of kilter” or just generally in bad shape.
Chiropractors note that there are six common signs or symptoms of DDD:
- Pain in upper thighs, low-back, or buttock areas
- Intermittent pain that ranges from mild to severe and appears and disappears from day to day, week to week or hour to hour
- You feel temporarily better when up and moving around but worse when you lie down or sit
- You notice pain when you twist your torso, lift something, or bend over
- You typically change positions frequently while lying down
- Tingling, numbness, general weakness in arms and legs, but especially in the legs
Don’t expect to have all of these symptoms because the list is just a general guideline. Always consult with your chiropractor to make sure that any pain you feel is DDD before deciding on a plan of action.
Remember, it’s possible to have back pain that is not disc-related, but only your chiropractor will be able to definitively determine the condition after a thorough medical exam. Don’t make the mistake of assuming any back or other bodily pain is serious until you speak with an expert. A trained chiropractor can give you specific answers to your questions, but it makes sense to have an exam first. That way, the doctor will be able to rule out some conditions and discover what the root cause of your pain is.
How Chiropractic Care Can Help Relieve Degenerative Disc Disease
The team at Delaware Integrative Medicine has years of experience treating a wide range of conditions, including degenerative disc disease. What will our physicians do to treat a case of DDD? There are many approaches for relieving the pain that comes with the condition and getting the body back into proper alignment and on the road to better health. Here are a few of the most common treatments your chiropractor at Delaware Integrative Health might use to help alleviate the pain associated with DDD:
- Joint stretching: This is a pain- and symptom-relieving technique often used for mild and more severe cases of DDD.
- Instrument-aided techniques: In some instances, the doctor will use a tool to manipulate the spine and relieve pain.
- Flexion-distraction: This gentle technique is typically used to treat herniated discs.
- Massage: Traditional massage is often used in conjunction with other techniques to relive pain.
- Spinal manipulation: This type of spinal adjustment utilizes thrusting motions to bring the spine into better alignment and help discs return to their original positions.
- Trigger point therapy: This targeted form of massage can bring pain relief that lasts a long time.
At Delaware Integrative Medicine, our entire staff works with you to make certain that you get the treatment you need, are properly diagnosed, and learn how to be a part of your own body’s long-term healing process. Our physicians are experienced with the relief of symptoms and all kinds of pain that degenerative disc disease brings. We realize that an initial exam and treatment session is only the beginning of long-term health.
That’s why our chiropractors make it a point to advise all patients about how to manage stress, make simple lifestyle changes, and eat foods that contribute to a strong, pain-free body. Contact us today for a no-obligation chat. We’re always happy to answer questions for established or new patients. Your health is our top priority.