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Degenerative Disc Disease in the Spine: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment Options, such as Chiropractic

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) refers to the deterioration of the intervertebral discs in the spine. These discs act as cushions between the vertebrae, providing flexibility and shock absorption to the spinal column. Over time, these discs can wear down, leading to various symptoms and discomfort. Understanding the causes, symptoms, diagnostic techniques, and treatment options for DDD is crucial for effectively managing this condition.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition where the intervertebral discs in the spine start to wear down or degenerate over time. This often results in chronic pain, reduced mobility, and can lead to other spinal conditions. It’s most commonly due to aging, but can also result from injury or genetic factors.

Understanding the Intervertebral Discs:

The intervertebral discs are composed of a tough, outer layer known as the annulus fibrosus and a gel-like inner core called the nucleus pulposus. These discs are vital for maintaining the structural integrity of the spine while allowing for movement and flexibility.

Causes of Disc Degeneration:

Disc degeneration can be attributed to various factors, including age-related wear and tear, repetitive strain or injury, genetics, and certain lifestyle habits. As the discs degenerate, they become less effective in providing support, leading to discomfort and related symptoms.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease:

DDD can cause symptoms such as chronic low back pain, radiating pain down the legs (sciatica), neck pain in the case of cervical disc degeneration, numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in the affected areas. The severity of symptoms can vary based on the extent of disc degeneration.

Disc Degeneration Phases Explained

Disc degeneration is a common issue that many people experience, and as a chiropractor, I often explain the phases of degeneration to my patients.

1. The first phase is when the disc begins to lose its water content, leading to decreased disc height and potential bulging. This can cause stiffness and discomfort in the affected area.

2. In the second phase, the disc may start to tear and form cracks, which can lead to more pain and limited mobility.

3. Finally, in the third phase, the disc may collapse and cause bone-on-bone contact, leading to more severe pain and potential nerve irritation. It’s important for patients to understand these phases so they can take preventative measures and seek appropriate care to alleviate symptoms and slow the degenerative process.

Chiropractic care can play an important role in managing disc degeneration by improving spinal alignment, decompression to allow the discs to recover, and mobility, reducing inflammation, and providing exercises and lifestyle recommendations to promote spinal health.

Diagnostic Techniques for Disc Degeneration

Role of Imaging in Diagnosing Degenerative Disc Disease:

Imaging techniques such as X-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) play a crucial role in diagnosing DDD. These imaging modalities allow healthcare providers to visualize the condition of the spinal discs and identify any degenerative changes.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) for Evaluating Spinal Discs:

MRI is particularly valuable for assessing the condition of spinal discs, as it provides detailed images of the soft tissues in the spine. Through MRI, healthcare professionals can pinpoint the location and extent of disc degeneration, aiding in the development of a treatment plan.

Benefits of Early Diagnosis:

Early diagnosis of DDD can enable prompt initiation of appropriate interventions, potentially preventing the progression of the condition and reducing the severity of associated symptoms. Timely diagnosis also allows for the implementation of nonsurgical treatment options.

Nonsurgical Treatment Options

Pain Management for Degenerative Disc Disease:

Pain management strategies for DDD may include the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, and analgesic medications to alleviate discomfort. Physical therapy and targeted exercises can also contribute to pain relief and improved mobility.

Nonsurgical Interventions for Spinal Disc Degeneration:

Noninvasive treatments such as spinal manipulative therapy, acupuncture, and chiropractic care are often explored for managing DDD. These approaches aim to reduce pain, improve spinal function, and enhance the overall well-being of individuals with this condition.

Exercise Programs for Managing Degenerative Disc Disease:

Tailored exercise programs, including stretching, strengthening, and low-impact aerobic exercises, can help individuals with DDD maintain spinal flexibility, strengthen supporting muscles, and manage symptoms. Engaging in regular physical activity is crucial for preserving spinal health and function.

Surgical Treatment Approaches

Surgical Procedures for Degenerative Disc Disease:

In cases where nonsurgical interventions are ineffective in alleviating symptoms, surgical options may be considered. Procedures such as discectomy, spinal fusion, and artificial disc replacement are designed to address specific issues related to DDD, providing relief and restoring spinal stability.

Considerations for Disc Replacement Surgery:

Disc replacement surgery involves replacing a damaged spinal disc with an artificial prosthesis, aiming to maintain natural spinal motion and function. This surgical approach may be suitable for certain individuals with DDD, offering an alternative to traditional fusion procedures.

Fusion Surgery for Addressing Spinal Disc Degeneration:

Spinal fusion surgery aims to stabilize the spine by joining two or more vertebrae together using bone grafts or medical hardware. This procedure can be effective in reducing pain and preventing further degeneration in the affected spinal segment.

Pain Relief and Management Strategies

Treating Low Back Pain Caused by Degenerative Disc Disease:

Individuals experiencing low back pain attributed to DDD may benefit from a multidisciplinary approach to pain management, incorporating medication, physical therapy, and ergonomics to enhance spinal support and relieve discomfort.

Neck Pain Relief Options for Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease:

For individuals with cervical disc degeneration, targeted therapies such as cervical traction, neck exercises, and ergonomic adjustments can aid in alleviating neck pain and reducing the impact of DDD on daily activities and quality of life.

Utilising Spinal Cord Stimulation for Chronic Pain Management:

Spinal cord stimulation, involving the placement of a device to deliver electrical impulses to the spinal cord, is considered for chronic pain management associated with severe DDD. This technique can modulate pain signals and improve overall comfort for eligible individuals.

Q: What are the symptoms of degenerative disc disease in the spine?

A: The symptoms of degenerative disc disease in the spine may include chronic lower back pain, pain that radiates down the legs, numbness or tingling in the legs, and weakness in the legs.

Q: What causes degenerative disc disease in the spine?

A: Degenerative disc disease in the spine is caused by the degeneration of the intervertebral discs, which can be due to aging, wear and tear, injury, or genetic factors.

Q: What treatment options are available for lumbar degenerative disc disease?

A: Treatment for lumbar degenerative disc disease may include physical therapy, medication, steroid injections, spinal decompression, and in severe cases, surgery.

Q: How is lumbar disc degeneration diagnosed?

A: Lumbar disc degeneration is diagnosed through a physical examination, imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans, and possibly nerve conduction studies.

Q: Can disc degeneration in the lumbar spine cause pain in the neck?

A: No, disc degeneration in the lumbar spine typically causes pain in the lower back and legs, not in the neck.

Q: What are the degenerative changes associated with disc herniation?

A: Degenerative changes associated with disc herniation may involve the loss of disc height, disc bulging, and the development of bone spurs.

Q: Are pain relievers effective in managing pain related to lumbar degenerative disc disease?

A: Pain relievers such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and acetaminophen can help manage the pain associated with lumbar degenerative disc disease.

Q: Is degenerative disc disease actually a disease?

A: Degenerative disc disease is not actually a disease but rather a condition that describes the degenerative changes in the intervertebral discs over time.

Q: Can damaged discs in the spine dry out?

A: Yes, damaged discs in the spine can dry out over time, leading to decreased disc height and potential compression of nearby nerves.

Q: What are the treatment options for severe disc degeneration in the lumbar spine?

A: Treatment options for severe disc degeneration in the lumbar spine may include surgery such as spinal fusion or artificial disc replacement.

How Healing Hands Chiropractors in Richmond Can Help Diagnose and Care for Disc Related Issues

At Healing Hands Chiropractic in Richmond, our chiropractors are skilled in diagnosing and treating disc-related issues. Our unique approach to care features one of the UK’s most thorough measurement-based chiropractic assessments.

In-depth Diagnosis of Disc-Related Issues

Our comprehensive chiropractic assessment process allows us to accurately diagnose disc-related issues. By using advanced diagnostic techniques, such as EMG Spinal Muscle Scans and Nerve Function Scans, we can identify problems with your spinal discs and surrounding structures that may be causing discomfort or pain.

Treatment Tailored to Your Needs

Based on our thorough assessment and accurate diagnosis, our experienced chiropractors develop a personalised treatment plan. This includes chiropractic adjustments designed to relieve pressure on affected discs, reduce inflammation, and alleviate pain.

We also provide guidance on exercises that can strengthen the surrounding muscles and improve spinal mobility. Our treatments aim not just to alleviate immediate discomfort but also to reduce the risk of future disc-related problems.

Rehabilitation and Preventive Measures

At Healing Hands Chiropractic, we understand the importance of rehabilitation and prevention in managing disc-related issues. We guide you through specific exercises designed to strengthen your spine, improve its flexibility, and stimulate healing. In addition, we provide advice on lifestyle modifications that can help protect your spinal discs.

Tracking Progress for Measurable Results

Our commitment to delivering measurable results means we track your progress throughout your treatment. This data-driven approach allows us to adjust your treatment plan as necessary, ensuring it remains effective and responsive to your needs.

Dealing with disc-related issues can be a challenge, but you don’t have to navigate it alone. At Healing Hands Chiropractic in Richmond, you’ll find a team of dedicated chiropractors committed to helping you overcome these issues. With our comprehensive, measurement-based approach, you can rest assured that your care is in capable hands.

Important Disclaimer: Collaborative Care for Disc-Related Issues

At Healing Hands Chiropractic, we strive for a holistic, comprehensive approach to diagnosing and treating disc-related issues such as herniated discs, intervertebral disc degeneration, lumbar intervertebral disc problems,  lumbar disc herniation, and other degenerated disc conditions such as compression fractures from severe osteoporosis. This may include diagnosing and caring for clients who have had disc related surgery such as disc laminectomies. However, we wish to clarify that accurate diagnosis might also require MRI scans, which do not form part of our 10-step measurement-based chiropractic assessment.

Our diagnosis of disc issues is based on functional and stand-up structural X-rays. These are meticulously marked to measure degrees of deviation and curvature from vertebra to vertebra. A normal disc would have a geometrical fairly well balanced shape and plump appearance, this shows by analysing the space between discs. Any irregularities in symmetry of the disc space provide insights into which side a disc is being compressed. However, it’s important to note that discs themselves don’t show on X-rays; they appear as transparent to translucent spaces.

MRI imaging can provide the required detail to visualise discs directly. However, this imaging is typically done in a laid-down, relaxed position, which differs from a normal load-bearing, upright or standing position.

We want to emphasise that Healing Hands Chiropractic works in conjunction with medical treatment. We highly recommend that you consult with your GP for any disc-related issues. Our role is to complement the care you receive from your GP and other healthcare providers, ensuring a multidimensional, supportive approach to your well-being.

Disc Related Healing Hands Chiropractic Client Testimonials

had been treated many times following what had been described as slight ‘ruptures’ of the discs around L4-L5

“I’ve been working with Dr Sanvir now for the last 4 months. Originally sceptical of chiropractic, a view borne largely because of the attitude of my healthcare provider towards the practice, I was drawn to consult with Healing Hands Chiropractic following my daughter’s successful ‘treatment’ there, having suffered frequent and debilitating migraines, largely cleared up after a few weeks of attending Healing Hands Chiropractic. I was interested to learn, on first consultation, of the ‘condition’ of my spine particularly in my neck (I have suffered neck ache for many years, putting it down to bad posture when working at a desk) as well as in my lower back (which had been treated many times following what had been described as slight ‘ruptures’ of the discs around L4-L5). Dr Sanvir was also interested and informative around previous medical history, especially old shoulder, knee and ankle injuries, which all had had an impact on my spinal health.

Embarking on a course of corrective treatment designed to run over 13 weeks, work and life frequently disrupted the planned regularity of treatment, but the flexibility afforded to my treatment by Healing Hands has worked well. In overall terms I have suffered far less neck ache and lower back ache in the last 4 months during treatment than at any time in the last 5-10 years, so realised the impact was positive. The proof of the pudding on re X-raying has been unequivocal – with a 10 degree improvement from what was a very poor 18 degree to 28 degree curvature in my neck, and even more significant change in my lower back. In fact this came as no surprise to me at all following last weekend, which was spent digging heavily in the garden, and which would ‘normally’ have been followed by a week or more of semi-crippling back pain. In fact, following my treatment, Monday came and I was right as rain. Overall it’s been suggested by work colleagues that I am walking taller (I’m 6ft 2 anyway, but now look like I am that height rather than hunching) as well as exuding greater confidence in my outward presentation, day to day and formally in business.

Chiropractic gets a fairly non-committal press, especially from the major UK healthcare providers. I’ve been wholly impressed with what I’ve experienced – now just to maintain my spine in the condition Dr Sanvir’s achieved for me. Highly recommended.  Thankyou.”

I went to healing hands after herniating 2 discs in my lower back

Highly recommended! I went to healing hands after herniating 2 discs in my lower back, because of an injury sustained playing netball. Dr Sanvir made the process so stress free, from assessment to treatment! Thank you!!

I had previously herniated discs on 2 separate occasions

I suffered a back injury just over 6 weeks ago resulting in severe lower back pain, leg weakness and difficulty mobilising. I had previously herniated discs on 2 separate occasions, and this felt exactly the same. My husband was quick to research chiropractic therapy as my last injury left me unable to work for 3 months-my only treatment being analgesia, rest, and physio. We had to try something new. Dr Sanvir has been a miracle worker. Within one week of starting chiropractic treatment I was able to drastically reduce my analgesia, and after 2 weeks, able to half my doses. His treatments combined with rest and heat have enabled me to get back to mobility very quickly. I have been pain free for the last 2.5 weeks, and although I still have to be very careful to avoid strain on the back, my recovery has been exceptional. I highly recommend Dr Sanvir and his chiropractic care for back pain, disc injury, and sciatic/nerve pain.

Ready to start your Healing Journey for Better Spinal Health?

Are you ready to take the first step towards better spinal health and overall well-being? Don’t wait any longer. Start your healing journey today with Healing Hands Chiropractic. Our dedicated team is here to support you on your path to improved spinal health and a pain-free life.

Whether you’re experiencing chronic back pain, discomfort, or looking to optimize your spinal alignment, our experienced chiropractors are committed to helping you achieve your goals. We believe in addressing the root causes of spinal issues, rather than merely treating the symptoms, to provide long-lasting relief and enhanced quality of life.

During your initial consultation, our chiropractors will conduct a thorough assessment, taking into account your medical history and specific concerns. This comprehensive evaluation will guide us in developing a personalized treatment plan tailored to your needs. Through chiropractic adjustments, therapeutic techniques, and lifestyle recommendations, we aim to restore balance, relieve pain, and promote optimal spinal health.

Don’t let spinal issues limit your potential or diminish your quality of life. Take control of your well-being today by starting your healing journey with Healing Hands Chiropractic. Experience the transformative benefits of improved spinal health and rediscover a life free from pain and discomfort.

Contact us today:

📞 24/7 Helpline: 020 8948 9102

🔗 24/7 Booking: Online Booking

For in-person visits, we’re located at:

🏢 26 Richmond Hill, Richmond, TW10 6QX, Southwest London – UK

Contact us now by calling our 24/7 helpline or by booking online, to schedule your appointment and embark on your path to better spinal health. Let Healing Hands Chiropractic be your trusted partner in restoring balance and vitality to your life. Your journey to optimal well-being begins here.