What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Before we move forward into treatments for degenerative disc disease, let’s first get to the bottom of just what it really is. All too often, we see patients that know they have this diagnosis, but have little understanding about exactly what it is. They also don’t know what caused it nor their different treatment options.
DDD, also known as spondylosis, is essential wear & tear on the spine. The spine is made of bones called vertebrae and in between each bone, is a jelly-like substance called an intervertebral disc (or disc for short).
DDD is when those discs wear out, which can put pressure on nerves, causing many different symptoms. These symptoms include shooting pain, achy pain, numbness, tingling and many more!
Surprisingly, DDD is completely NORMAL! You read that right! It’s totally normal as we age that our spine will wear out. So what’s the problem then? The problem is when the spine wears out prematurely due to car accidents, poor posture, improper care of the spine, falls, etc.
So, what can you do about DDD once you’re diagnosed? Check out the 5 natural treatments below:
(***For your safety, be sure to consult your Doctor prior to starting any form of therapy for DDD***):
Chiropractic to Manage Degenerative Disc Disease
While there is certainly no form of therapy that can regenerate the disc that is worn out, there are many different types of therapies that can help manage that area of the spine. Chiropractic is one of them!
Chiropractic is a form of alternative medicine that uses gentle manipulative techniques to remove pressure off the spine and nerves, improve flexibility, reduce inflammation and restore proper function and alignment.
When a patient has DDD, the spine is inflamed, there is pressure on the surrounding muscles and tissues and everything is out of alignment. With chiropractic care, the muscles are properly stretched and the spine is gently realigned, removing the pressure and pain.
You’re chiropractor will also provide you with the proper exercises and stretches to strengthen the area and not only remove the pain, but prevent it from returning.
PLEASE Keep in mind that alternative therapies TAKE TIME! It took MANY YEARS for your spine to get to the condition that it is in (although you may have only recently started feeling pain), so it will certainly take time to stabilize and remove that pain.
Looking for more information about chiropractic? Check out our other Blog Post: 5 Reasons Why Everyone Should See A Chiropractor.
Physical Therapy to Manage Degenerative Disc Disease
What is Physical Therapy? Physical Therapy utilizes methods like stretches, exercises, massage, heat and ice to treat DDD, rather than drugs or surgery.
By seeing a physical therapist regularly when you have DDD, they will help you strengthen and support your spine, which will reduce pain and prevent the pain from returning.
So, What's the Difference Between Chiropractic & Physical Therapy?
So whats the difference between chiropractic and physical therapy? We get asked this all the time…
Chiropractors and Physical Therapists are both Doctors, educated for 8+ years in the USA. They are both well versed in the human body, it’s ailments and treatments. They both have the same goal for their patients: to get them better!
The major difference between the two is that chiropractors utilize spinal manipulation and most physical therapists don’t. Physical Therapists spend the entire 30minutes-1 hour of your treatment session on your specific problem area, while chiropractors focus more on the body as a whole.
Chiropractors know that the entire body is affected when there is an issue, even if you just have lower back pain. Lower back pain affects the way you walk, the way your hips move, your middle back, upper back and sometimes your neck! They examine and treat the entire spine and body.
Treatment with both Physical Therapy and Chiropractic together can help significantly for patients with DDD.
Yoga to Stretch the Spine for Degenerative Disc Disease
Historically, yoga is an ancient Indian (Hindu) discipline that includes breathing, meditation and specific postures. These are all utilized to reach the ultimate goal: self-realization.
While you can certainly practice yoga to achieve the above goals, it has made it’s way to the western wold and is widely practised for health, flexibility and relaxation. The postures that a yoga class takes you through stretch and strengthen the muscles of the body.
All too often, the muscles surrounding the spine are damaged and weakened due to lifestyle choices and accidents. Yoga can stabilize these muscles and even prevent further wear and tear down the rode. Flexibility and movement are the key to a healthy life and spine, and yoga is there to help.
While yoga is absolutely amazing for the spine, it is not recommended for all stages of DDD. If you have DDD, be sure to see your physician, chiropractor or physical therapist prior to starting yoga.
Pilates to Strengthen the Core & Spine for Degenerative Disc Disease
Like yoga, pilates can also help stretch and strengthen the muscles of the core and spine. Some pilates classes use a special apparatus, called a reformer. Other basic pilates is performed on a yoga mat.
Pilates focuses on decompressing the spine with movements. These movements help bring fluid and flexibility to the worn out, dehydrated discs of the spine. This reduces pain and prevents further wear and tear on the spine.
Change Your Routine To Help Your Degenerative Disc Disease
Change your routine…change your life! If you have DDD and are experiencing pain, chances are your daily routine is contributing to the problem. YOU MUST CHANGE IT!
Start by stretching DAILY. Stretch in the morning upon wakening and evening before going to bed. Check your ergonomics. How is your desk? Is the way your siting in your chair contributing to the problem? Have you considered a standing desk? What about your purse or wallet? Are you sitting on a wallet that is forcing you to lean one way?
Are you carrying a purse that is causing you to put more pressure on one side of your body? Do you drink water? Are you eating a pro-inflammatory diet full of unhealthy foods? How much movement do you do daily? Try taking a walk every evening after dinner.
Living a healthier life and making healthier choices with diet, stretching & exercise also LARGELY contribute to back pain and are often not discussed with you by your Doctor.
Looking for more info? Check out our other Blog Post 5 Everyday Habits Contributing to Your Back Pain for more information.
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