Could You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

Could You Have Degenerative Disc Disease?

If you can bend and twist without pain, thank your spinal discs. If those simple movements cause you agony, blame your spinal discs. 

That may be an oversimplification of complex back pain, but if you’re over age 40, degenerative disc disease is a likely culprit. And if you’re over 60, it’s a probable cause of your pain, since most people experience disc deterioration to some degree as they age. 

So how do you know if your pain stems from degenerative disc disease or some other condition, and what can you do if you have it? 

The only way to know for sure what’s causing your condition is to consult a specialist who can identify the root cause of your pain. If you live in or around Redwood City, California, your best bet is to visit Dr. Dana Robinson at Peninsula RSI Chiropractic Wellness Center

She’s not only an experienced chiropractor, but she also specializes in nonsurgical, drug-free treatments that address a wide range of musculoskeletal issues, including degenerative disc disease. Here’s what you need to know.

Degenerative disc disease 101

Your spinal discs are rubbery cushions situated between each bony vertebra in your spinal column. The outer shell of the disc, called the annulus, is made up of fibrous layers that protect the gel-like center called the nucleus.

Every time you bend or twist, discs provide a soft cushion that prevents your bones from rubbing against one another, giving you flexibility. Sadly, just like other body parts that wrinkle and shrivel, your discs change as you age.

Two main changes are predictable in aging discs: loss of fluid and weakening structure. When the inner fluid of your discs decreases, you lose height and precious space between your vertebrae. And as the outer annulus weakens and becomes thinner and brittle, it’s susceptible to cracks that allow the nucleus to leak out and irritate nearby nerves. This is the picture of degenerative disc disease, which is actually not a disease but a natural progression in the life of a well-used spine.

What degenerative disc disease feels like

In many cases, degenerative disc disease causes no symptoms at all. In others, it causes excruciating pain that makes everyday activities impossible. 

Where your symptoms fall on this spectrum depends on several variables, but the common signs of degenerative disc disease include:

When you have symptomatic degenerative disc disease, the type of pain you feel depends on the location of the affected disc or discs. If it’s in your neck area, you may feel the symptoms in your arms and hands; if it’s in your lower back, you’re likely to feel them in your legs and feet. The reason for the traveling pain is that if your degenerative disc disease leads to a bulging or herniated disc, it can compress nerves that branch out from your spine and travel down your limbs.

Although age is the primary cause of degenerative disc disease, other factors can exacerbate the problem, including obesity, smoking, injury, and strenuous work or exercise.

What can be done about degenerative disc disease

When your discs deteriorate, your body tries to compensate for the resulting instability, which often ends up causing muscle pain and spasms. Dr. Robinson can develop a personalized exercise plan that targets, strengthens, and stabilizes the supporting muscles to decrease pain and increase mobility.

She also provides expert chiropractic care to adjust misalignments caused by degenerative disc disease, repositioning your vertebrae and decompressing nerves.

Massage therapy may also relieve your symptoms because it boosts your circulation, relaxes your spasming muscles, and reduces the inflammation that typically results from degenerative disc disease.

These are just a few of the noninvasive treatments Dr. Robinson offers to ease your degenerative disc disease symptoms. To learn if you have this condition and which treatment is right for you, schedule an appointment online or call us today. We’re here to get to the bottom of your back pain.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Effective Ways to Manage Stress

A little stress can get you out of danger quickly, but too much stress can cause danger for your body and your mind. With the holidays right around the corner, we’re offering tips for keeping stress under control so it doesn’t control you.

How to Minimize Low Back Pain

So many people suffer from low back pain, it almost seems inevitable. But you can sidestep this particular malady, or at least keep it to a minimum, by following these practical tips.

Recurrent Headaches: Can Massage Therapy Help?

If you’ve ever instinctively reached up to rub your temples when you have a headache, you already know the power of massage. Find out how regular massage therapy can treat chronic headaches and even prevent them from coming back.

5 Causes of Neck Pain

It’s clear why the saying “a pain in the neck” means anything that annoys or irritates you. But when actual neck pain is the problem, you need to know exactly what’s causing it so you can treat it and get rid of it. Here are the most common culprits.

Here's How You Can Decrease Your Stress

Worry, anxiety, panic, angst — no matter what you call it, stress is more than an emotion. It’s a trigger for a long list of physical conditions. Here are some practical tips to lower your stress and reduce your risk for these serious consequences.

Treat Your Osteoarthritis With Massage Therapy

Osteoarthritis wears down the protective cartilage inside your joints until bone rubs on bone. So, how can a massage help with that? Turns out, the one goal of all arthritis treatments is the thing massage therapy does best.