Degenerative Disc Disease


Degenerative disc disease (DDD) may sound as if you have a progressive incurable disease, when in fact this is a common sign of ageing. DDD is a condition where the height of your discs has reduced and hence there may be bony changes around your spinal joints.

As the discs degenerate stiffness and pain may or may not develop.

What causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

The basic cause of DDD is gravity and time. Gravity places a compression type stress on your spine and with time the discs will wear naturally. However if you have had injuries to a local area that haven't been addresses, there can be an increased sign in these areas.

The degeneration occurs greatest where the pressures are greatest. When you have spinal imbalances, the distortion patterns twist and distort your spine, allowing these compression stresses to increase. With time degeneration will increase.


What are the symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?

In most cases there is no pain at all. The normal wear and tear on your discs will create the reduction in height. As you age you will notice this as a limited range of movement, rather than pain. Many of the elderly have no pain at all, yet they may have severe DDD.

When you have spinal imbalances and the local areas have an increase amount of DDD, then pain may develop. You may notice stiffness first which with time can develop into pain as the muscles and joints in the area fail to function correctly.

If left to continue the degeneration, the pain may become chronic and the stiffness will limit movement further. This is why early intervention is the key and for those who already have DDD, removing the spinal imbalances is essential.

How is DDD diagnosed?

X-Rays will show the decrease in disc height and the signs of wear and tear. However X-Rays do not show you how well or how poorly your joints are moving. A physical exam may note some stiffness or discomfort in the area, but from the outside DDD is not obvious.

How is Degenerative Disc Disease treated?

Symptom based treatment relies heavily on medication to reduce any inflammation in the area. There are numerous types of medications and even supplements that will give you temporary relief.

Mobilizing the area with heavy manipulation is best avoided as it may cause more damage, muscle work may help ease some stiffness. Surgery is an option if the degeneration is severe enough that it is causing neurological changes. Cortisone may be tried before hand to hopefully delay the need for surgery.

Why do so many treatments fail?

Most treatments still target only symptoms; they try to reduce the inflammation caused by the DDD. If the degeneration is severe, then all treatments will have minimal effect.

However, most people have minor or moderate DDD, which can be helped if you target the cause rather than the symptoms. You need to reduce the compression stresses from the spinal imbalances, and no pills, injections or surgery will achieve this.

Which treatments work best for Degenerative Disc Disease?

Treatments that get to the root cause will always be best for DDD. You first must identify which spinal imbalances you have. The next step is easing pain that may have developed. Releasing trigger points is effective as is using natural ways to reduce inflammation.

Using ice/heat when you have pain is helpful to reduce the inflammation. Inversion therapy will help reduce the compression stresses temporarily, stimulate circulation and aid inflammation removal. But you need to rebalance your spine to prevent the compression stress long term.

Spinal balancing is the only long term solution as the principles rely on addressing both the symptoms and the cause of your DDD. Removing the distortion patterns reduces the compression stress, and therefore stops the progressive nature of the degeneration.

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