Q: I am a chronic low back pain sufferer. Can you tell me what is involved in degenerative disc disease? Can it be fixed?

A: Degenerative disc disease is an umbrella term for the condition that has several factors. It usually includes all or some of the following: damaged spinal discs, arthritis, swelling, muscle spasm, bone spurs, pain, and limited range of motion. The pain is usually present most of the time, but not always intensely. There are usually episodes of FLARE UPS that make it hurt for weeks at a time more severely and then the pain diminishes until it is flared up again. The flare up can occur from overuse, improper movement, or even bad weather. Usually the stiffer a person allows themselves to get, the more often and severe a flare up occurs.

Obviously this problem involves damage to the disc so let me explain how that happens. Your spine is made up of 24 bones called vertebrae. Each vertebra has six joints that let the spine move and bear weight. Between each pair of vertebrae is a disc, a cushion of sorts that has a soft center called the nucleus and a tough outer cartilage called the annulus. Your daily activity and your body’s weight put considerable pressure on the alignment of the vertebrae and on the discs. If the annulus tears or starts to break down, the condition is called a degenerated disc. Degenerated discs can cause pain in the neck and, more commonly, in the lower back. As we age, the flow of blood to the discs can decrease. Dried-up blood vessels can leave channels in the annulus and weaken the disc. Movement is what keeps the area healthy and proper alignment allows for even distribution of the stress to these joints.

As with most medical conditions, if a problematic disc is diagnosed and treated early, the chance of correcting the situation is much better. If caught before there is permanent damage, the health of disc tissue often returns close to its normal state. Typically, this is a problem that is not fixed and success comes by appropriately MANAGING the problem, much like the concept of managing heart disease. Many times, surgery is not an option. Regular chiropractic treatment, including manual spinal adjustments, can keep your vertebrae in proper alignment and maintain maximum mobility. There are several gentle procedures that chiropractors can use that help to relax the area, decrease pain, and keep flexibility of the spine without aggravating the situation. As with all chronic conditions, exercise and diet are an important factor that should warrant you attention.

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Voted Best Morgantown Chiropractic Office 2018, 2019, and 2021!

Voted Best Morgantown Chiropractic Office 2018, 2019, and 2021!