Despite its name, degenerative disc disease is not exactly a disease. Rather, it is the natural degeneration of a person’s spinal discs as they age.
Spinal discs or intervertebral discs sit between your vertebrae, acting as cushions. They have a soft interior and a tough, rubbery exterior. They function as:
- Shock absorbers
- Tough ligaments that hold your spine together
- Cartilaginous joints that give your spine some flexibility
As they harden with age, the outer protective lining becomes weaker. The spinal discs begin to wear away and become more prone to injury. Due to this, the vertebrae can start to rub together, possibly causing other spinal problems.
Spinal disc degeneration may cause no symptoms, and the symptoms vary between persons. The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease are:
- Radiating neck and back pain
- Numbness or tingling in your arms and legs
- Pain when bending or twisting the spine and when lifting heavy objects
- Pain when sitting or standing for too long
- Muscle tension or muscle spasms
Pain caused by degenerative disc disease is often due to compressed nerves, so it can travel to the arms, legs, and buttocks. The pain can range from mild to severe and debilitating.
Our spines naturally degenerate as part of aging. Pain usually occurs when the degeneration affects other structures in the spine like nerves and joints. The main causes are usually:
- The drying of spinal discs as you age
- Cracks in the disc’s outer wall caused by injuries
- Inflammation from within the disc
- Instability from degenerated discs causing small, unnatural motions between vertebrae, irritating the surrounding structures
Additional factors that increase the risk of developing symptoms include injuries, obesity, smoking, and other physically taxing activities and health conditions.
Some natural treatments for degenerative disc disease include:
- Physical therapy: a trained healthcare specialist can show you low-impact exercises to strengthen your back.
- Hot and cold therapy: you can reduce soreness and inflammation by alternating hot and cold compresses every 10-15 minutes, 3-4 times a day.
You can prevent pain caused by degenerative disc disease by staying healthy and healing it through natural home remedies. If you experience any of its symptoms, visit our office for an examination so we can create a treatment plan for you.