Providing high quality and thorough chiropractic care to people of all ages.
Degenerative disc disease is the progressive wearing down of the cartilage discs between each of your vertebrae. Degenerative disc disease becomes more common and prevalent as we age. Some people are more prone to degenerative disc disease than others, and this can depend on your job, physical activity, posture and other factors. Degenerative disc disease is essentially the same as arthritis, however it describes the arthritic process specifically in the spinal disc joints.
There is no exact method for preventing degenerative disc disease from occurring. There are instead many different things we can do to reduce the stress on our discs, including –
Regular exercise puts a healthy amount of physical stress on our discs which allows them to expand and contract. This movement in the disc causes nutrients and fluid to move into the disc’s cartilage, helping to heal and maintain the structure of the disc.
Healthy diets consist of the necessary building blocks in the form of nutrients which can help to keep all of the cartilage in our bodies healthy, including our discs.
Good posture will place as close to an even amount of stress on all of our discs as possible. It is impossible to remove the stress from our discs completely, but if the pressure is spread evenly between them rather than concentrated on just a few, the wear and tear can be minimised.
Sitting down relaxes our body. While it is important to have periods of relaxation, too much will lead to inactivity of our strong, important postural muscles which help to take pressure off the joints in our spine. Taking short breaks every hour when sitting to move around can help to reduce this.
The more body weight is placed on the discs, the faster they can wear down. This goes hand in hand with regular exercise as a way to reduce the risk of degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease often begins as a feeling of stiffness, particularly when sitting or standing in one spot for long periods of time. There can also be a feeling of constantly needing to change position, or a need to ‘pop’ or ‘crack’ your joints. With degenerative disc disease, ‘popping’ your joints can become very difficult and eventually impossible. This is due to the joints being much less mobile than they should be, meaning the joints are unable to reach their normal limits resulting in the ‘pop’.
Sometimes, degenerating discs are completely without symptoms, or the symptoms are very minimal. Pain in the back or neck may not be felt until the discs are very worn down.
Chiropractic care often aims to restore the mobility and function of the spinal joints through adjustments and mobilisations. Adjustments and mobilisations may help prevent the joints from becoming stiff and thus wearing down on the cartilage in the discs. As Chiropractors, we also provide advice and instruction on what to do at home, including desk setups, exercise routines and other major factors in preventing degenerative disc disease as well as other common problems. Degenerated discs cannot be restored to their previous healthy state once they degenerate past a certain point, however often many of the symptoms associated with degenerative disc disease are not caused by the discs themselves, and so we may be able to get relief from the pain and stiffness regardless.
By Dr. Beau Kenihan (Chiropractor)