Spinal degeneration is primarily caused by the aging process. The joints and discs in your spine break down over time causing back pain. Chiropractic care and physical therapy can help to restore the range of motion in the joints of the spine, relieve some pain and slow down the degeneration process.
What is spinal degeneration and is degenerative disc disease just another name for it?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Degenerative spine conditions involve the gradual loss of normal structure and function of the spine over time. Technically, degenerative disc disease is a specific issue. This is where the discs in your spine over time break down. However, they usually go hand-in-hand. If you have a joint in the spine that’s degenerative, there’s a good chance that the disc will be, too. And if it isn’t, at some point over time as we age, unfortunately, the disc will be damaged, too.
What causes spinal degeneration?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Unfortunately, spinal degeneration and its associated symptoms are one of the most common medical issues we deal with in America today, over three million people annually. The most common cause, unfortunately, is the aging process. As we age, our spine and discs break down, just like the brake discs in our car. Trauma to the joint can also accelerate the degeneration process. Unfortunately, it’s just one of those things.
What are some symptoms of spinal degeneration?
Dr. Luke Stringer: One of the most common symptoms we see is just a continuous dull, nagging pain that surrounds the joint, the disc, or the tissue that’s essentially degenerative. This pain can exacerbate, get worse, and become more severe, kind of a sharp-like shooting pain that can refer around the body, and that can be caused from an activity or movements, such as bending and lifting things from the floor.
How is spinal degeneration detected?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Specific orthopedic and/or neurological tests can highlight degenerative joints and discs. However, the best and most objective way is through specific imaging. If you’re trying to find a degenerative joint, x-ray is the gold standard. If you’re trying to find a degenerative disc or any damage in the soft tissue, an MRI scan is the gold standard for that.
Is it possible to treat spinal degeneration naturally to improve the condition?
Dr. Luke Stringer: Common treatment methods are usually a course of over-the-counter NSAIDs, so Tylenol, Advil. If they don’t work, a more severe prescription will be given, such as muscle relaxers and opioids in some cases, and in more severe cases with degeneration and disc disease within the spine, pain management injections and/or even surgery. Research states that they may offer some relief temporarily. However, they’re only addressing the symptoms.
A more conservative, natural approach, such as chiropractic combined with physical therapy can offer some really good results. Unfortunately, once degeneration has occurred in the joint or the disc, you can’t reverse time. However, you can certainly slow the degeneration process down.
Degeneration occurs over time. However, the process of degeneration is accelerated when a joint loses its range of motion and we start loading the joint really poorly. This breaks down a joint and the tissue quickly. Chiropractors specifically can restore full or at least improved range of motion within the joint and the tissue. If we supplement this with some good soft tissue work, such as myofascial trigger point therapy, some good stabilization work, we can restore a good amount of the range of motion within the joint and the tissue which can relieve symptoms and certainly slow the degeneration process down naturally.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Luke Stringer visit www.southloopchiropractor.com or call (312) 987-4878 to schedule an appointment.
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