Degenerative Disc Disease Spine DiagramAs we get older, our body begins to lose some of its mobility. Certain things we relied on are no longer as trustworthy as they once were. This can lead to the overall degeneration in certain body parts.

One such example of degeneration that affects millions of Americans each year is degenerative disc disease. Degenerative disc disease is the process whereby the discs located in your back begin to lose their flexibility. More often than not, this is not a painful process and is quite normal. In some cases, degenerative discs can cause severe pain in the upper and lower back.

Degenerative disc disease shouldn’t be associated with worsening pain, though. There is hope, as degenerative discs are normal. Over extended periods of time, any pain that results from discs should improve. Until then, proper methods need to be taken in order to help teach serious pain management techniques.

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Why Do Intervertebral Discs Degenerate?

In order to understand why discs in your back degenerate, it’s important to learn what discs are comprised of. In the simplest of terms, discs are the shock-absorbers of your back. Instead of moving around with great stiffness, discs allow for fluid movement. They allow for bending and stretching your body.

The discs themselves are a delicate system, though. They are comprised of two elements:
Inside Spinal Disc - Annulus Fibrosus - Nucleus Pulposus

  • Nucleus Pulposus – the viscous fluid inside the disc. Contained within is protein-rich material that, if it escapes, can cause serious inflammation of the affected area.
  • Annulus Fibrosus – the firm outer layer of the disc. This protects the fluid inside from escaping. The downside is that the material is so tough, the nerves that go through the disc only go through the outer-most layer of the wall. This makes the nerves much more vulnerable to any disruption, increasing the likelihood of any maladies that may cause pain.

This delicate balancing system allows for fluid movement in the back. As time goes on, the quality of the discs lessens. This occurs due to a variety of stresses, such as sustained physical activity, diet, environmental conditions, and more.

Surrounding all of this are even more things. Facet joints can be found connecting the discs to each other, facilitating movement. Cartilage surrounds your back, providing tough, but flexible, protection from vertebral segments grinding against each other. Like degenerative disc disease, these things can also wear down after many years.

There is a large misconception about degenerative disc disease. Most people believe that degenerative disc disease is abnormal. This is actually untrue. Like all things, discs will degenerate over time. The harmful part of degenerating discs is the pain that can sometimes happen. This is what people refer to when discussing degenerative disc disease.

Symptoms of Degenerated Discs

Most people assume that degenerative disc disease only affects the back. This is another misconception. Degenerated discs can cause a multitude of problems, including back pain.

Depending on the location of the bad disc, you could be subject to several different types of pain. If you have a bad disc in the upper location of your spine, you could have pain in your neck, shoulders, or arms. If the disc is located in the lower back, you may have pain in the buttocks, the legs, and the lower back.

Bad discs don’t always manifest itself in pain as well. In some cases, numbness can be found in extremities, along with general tingling. Sometimes coupled with this is weakness in muscles. If you are suffering from weakness in the foot or leg muscles, this could be an indication one of your discs in your lower back could be degenerating.

The symptoms of degenerative disc disease can also lead to other back-related conditions. Some afflictions that may occur include:

  • Osteoarthritis – wearing down of bone. This can accelerate due to the wearing down of the discs. The worn down discs create less of a gap between facet joints, which increase the contact facet joints have with each other.
  • Spinal Stenosis – pinched nerves. As the discs wear down, the nerves become more exposed, increasing the risk of danger to the nervous center.
  • Spondylolisthesis – ineffective joints. Facet joints can degenerate enough to where the vertebrae can collapse onto each other.

What Can I Do to Help Fight Degenerative Disc Disease?

The situation with degenerative disc disease is not a dire one, but it is serious. It can be an incredibly painful and arduous experience for those that face it. There are steps you can take to help address your pain.

Adjusting your posture is the first thing to take care of. By adjusting posture and keeping your spine in a straight line, you will be placing the appropriate amount of stress on all portions of your back. This opposes bad posture, which could stress out the affected disc. This may take time, but is worth it for both short and long term health benefits.

Eliminating any stimulants from your diet is also a tremendous benefit. Additives such as caffeine, alcohol, and more can cause serious damage to your health. Instead of exacerbating your condition with unstable elements, focus on reinvigorating your diet through a steady consumption of water and healthy foods.

Creating a calm exercise pattern for no less than 30 minutes can also help alleviate symptoms for degenerative disc disease. It is important to stress calm exercise. Overcompensating by running, climbing, or more can cause undue stress on an already delicate situation. Instead, calm movement will keep your body flexible enough without additional wear and tear.

If these do not work, pain medication is a common tool used to help cope. By taking Tylenol, ibuprofen, or other anti-inflammatory medications, this may help lessen the pain. If these do not work, surgery is a possibility.

The method of recovery that is most encouraged is physical therapy. By talking with a professional about your condition, your healing process is under the guidance of someone who is professional educated in pain. This knowledge can make the difference of years of recovery or months.

Man with back support from ergonomic chair

How Can BioMotion Physical Therapy Help My Degenerative Disc Disease?

Anyone that has to deal with this condition should not be tasked with attacking this beast alone. BioMotion has seen these effects first hand. We want to be a rock for you and help you on your way towards a better life.

BioMotion and its physical therapists are equipped with the knowledge and the tools to assist those in need. As licensed physical therapists, we have seen many cases of people with degenerative disc disease. This allows us to provide the best care and refine our services to provide precision care.

When dealing with severe pain, we want to give you the best possible solutions. That’s why we individualize each care plan for our clients. Your physical therapy may not be exactly the same as another person with degenerative disc disease. We want to make sure we get your health back in the most successful way possible.

Most importantly, we want to make sure you’re getting the best possible care. We want to make sure you are satisfied with the progress you are making. We want to make sure you’re on your way to a better you.

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