Degenerative disc disease is a common affliction that affects a staggering number of people each year. Intervertebral disc degeneration is completely natural. Over time, wear and tear can cause damage to the discs supporting your spine. However, some people experience significant levels of pain due to disc degeneration compared to others.
The root of the pain that patients with degenerative disc disease experience is often misunderstood. This pain is usually not located in the spinal discs themselves, but often comes from the structures surrounding the spine – including joints, nerve roots, and muscles – due to inflammation. Thus, people who suffer from chronic inflammation may experience heightened levels of pain alongside degenerative disc disease.
Ideal Spine focuses on a holistic approach to patient care, providing chiropractic techniques to spinal experts to potentially alleviate the symptoms of spinal discomfort. Our Chiropractic BioPhysics (CBP) approach may help chiropractors be better prepared to treat patients suffering from degenerative disc disease pain.
Understanding pain from degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease occurs when the discs located between the spinal vertebrae get worn down and dehydrated over time. This process happens naturally with age but can be exacerbated by stress and trauma on the spine.
The condition typically causes back or neck pain, as well as weakness, numbness, or tingling sensations in the arms and legs. This pain is usually mild and persistent, with the patient experiencing an occasional flare-up. Degenerative disc disease can lead to other conditions like spondylolisthesis or scoliosis, which can cause pain in other ways.
However, degenerative disc disease does not always cause pain in patients. Pain is usually felt when disc degeneration leads to problems with the surrounding spinal structures like nerves and muscles. One of the major sources of this pain is inflammation caused by intervertebral disc fluid.
Spinal discs are composed of two sections: an inner section containing a jelly-like substance and a harder outer section. Degeneration can cause the outer layer to tear, resulting in inner fluid leaking out of the disc. This inner fluid contains inflammatory proteins that may cause inflammation in the surrounding structures. The inflammation affecting the nerves and muscles is usually quite painful and may be experienced in the form of muscle swelling and spasms, nerve irritation and shooting pains, and generalized tenderness.
The link between disc degeneration and chronic inflammation
We know that inflammatory properties in the spinal disc fluid can cause painful irritation near the spine when discs break down. However, this isn’t the only type of inflammation that can affect pain in the spine. If patients are also suffering from chronic inflammation from another underlying disorder, their back pain may be worsened.
Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process and fights against harmful things in the body. However, inflammation is not intended to last very long. Chronic inflammation is inflammation that lasts more than a few days – the body’s normal inflammatory response time.
Having additional inflammatory properties circulating in the body increases the potential for additional pain in the back or neck due to degenerative disc disease. What may normally be a tolerable level of pain near the vertebral disc may become intense, intolerable pain for someone with chronic inflammation. This pain may also last much longer than normal.
This link between chronic inflammation and degenerative disc disease may help explain why some patients experience lower or higher levels of pain despite the severity of their disc degeneration.
Treatment options for disc degeneration
Patients with degenerative disc disease pain may be able to relieve their symptoms by using alternating ice and heat pack therapy at home. Ice packs may reduce inflammation, while heat packs may relieve tension and spasms in the muscles.
Making healthy lifestyle choices to reduce chronic inflammation symptoms is also recommended for patients suffering from both conditions. Avoiding sugary foods, eating anti-inflammatory foods, and exercising regularly may reduce inflammation and, therefore, reduce spinal pain.
Additionally, chiropractic care may help alleviate pain. Chiropractic manipulations may help relieve muscle tension and pressure, as well as symptoms caused by inflammation. Patients interested in learning more about how chiropractic care may help treat their pain should contact Ideal Spine to look for a CBP-certified chiropractor.
Chiropractic BioPhysics® corrective care trained Chiropractors are located throughout the United States and in several international locations. CBP providers have helped thousands of people throughout the world realign their spine back to health, and eliminate a source of chronic back pain, chronic neck pain, chronic headaches and migraines, fibromyalgia, and a wide range of other health conditions. If you are serious about your health and the health of your loved ones, contact a CBP trained provider today to see if you qualify for care. The exam and consultation are often FREE. See www.CBPpatient.com for providers in your area.