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Pain and Degenerative Disc Disease

By Debra Rodzinak

Degenerative Disc Disease is a gradual deterioration of the spinal discs that can cause pain in the back and extremities of the body.  Many chiropractic patients suffer from this type of pain.

Factors of Degenerative Disc Disease

A common line of thought is that degenerative disc disease is thought to stem from inflammation and abnormal micromotion instability.

Inflammation - The spaces within the disc contain proteins.  These proteins can become inflamed and cause pain.  If the lower disc space is affected, the pain can move or radiate down to the hips, legs, feet, and toes.  If the upper back disc area is affected, there may be neck pain that can also radiate to the arms, shoulders, or hands.

Abnormal micromotion instability - The outer rings of the spinal discs are called annulus.  When these annuli wear down, they are not as effective in keeping the spine properly supported.  The term “micromotion” describes the instability of these rings.  This is different from a slipped disc because the movement is so slight as to not be readily felt.

Both inflammation and abnormal micromotion instability can cause pain in the neck or lower back.  Muscle spasms can also occur due to the body’s attempt to keep the spine stable.  These spasms can be very painful and are thought to be the cause of the intense pain associated with degenerative disc disease.

Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease

The two symptoms that are most common with painful degenerating discs are cartilaginous end plate erosion and disc space collapse.  Like all joints in the body, the spine has a cartilage plate between each vertebra.  The end of this plate is the source of disc nutrition.  When this wears away or becomes eroded, inflammation and micromotion instability can occur, which causes pain and some common symptoms. Types of symptoms are:

  • Pain that flares up at times but then subsides or goes away entirely is a common symptom.
  • Pain among individuals can vary, and the amount of pain a patient may feel can range from a dull, nagging pain to a severe, disabling.  This constant pain is referred to as chronic or baseline pain.
  • There may be several episodes of severe pain that occurs in the back or neck and lasts a few days or months before returning to a patient’s baseline level of chronic pain.
  • Rare, but occurring in some patients, chronic pain renders that patient completely disabled.

If you are currently suffering from chronic back pain, one treatment option is chiropractic.  Using an all natural, drug-free approach to pain management, the expert doctors at The Joint can provide patients with an alternative to surgery or drugs with gentle spinal adjustments.  With no pesky insurance forms to fill out or appointment times to remember, relieving pain naturally at The Joint is easy and stress-free.


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