Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease and degenerative joint disease affects millions of Americans. Chiropractic care is very effective and noninvasive at regressing spinal degeneration. In this article, I will call degenerative disc disease DDD and degenerative joint disease DJD respectively. This article is specifically focused on the axial skeleton, and not degeneration of other joints in the healthy spinal jointsbody.

The difference between degenerative disk disease and DJD

This is more of technical jargon than anything. In both cases, we are seeing a degree of degeneration in the spinal column. The spine is a very amazing mechanical instrument. Muscles attach to bone, the bone shields your central nervous system and allows your muscle to move your body, while protecting and allowing your peripheral nerves to exit. The axial spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. There are 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, and 5 lumbar vertebrae. If you were doing the quick math you would say, but that’s only 24 not 33. The remaining 9 include 5 fused bone in your sacrum and 4 fused bone in your coccyx.  For this reason, the fused bones are not of interest because it’s the joints that are important in this article. A spinal joint is comprised of 2 vertebrae. Between your vertebrae lies a disc which cushions and separates the joints. You can picture this disc as a sponge. A spinal disc is a living organism in your body, and receives nutrients through movement. The disc does not have blood supply, so to get nutrients it requires movement, a process known as imbibition.

Without movement, the disc simply cannot get nutrients and cell necrosis will proceed.

Cell necrosis in simple terms is death, a disc without movement will die. This is what occurs in those suffering from DDD and DJD. In both instances, there is degeneration resulting in loss of disc height. The degenerative process seen in Degenerative Joint Disease is synonymous to osteoarthritis. Nearly every patient that comes into my office is familiar with arthritis and the pain associated with it. Most who suffer arthritic pain feel better once they get moving in the morning. The spine should be treated no differently, and a doctor of chiropractic is able to induce motion into fixated joints. With repetition of treatments, the end result is increased motion, and decreased pain. Now I will explain how chiropractic can help with such degenerative conditions. The most basic principle of chiropractic is inducing movement into a joint. When a joint is not moving properly, degeneration is bound to happen. rusty door hinge

Joint movements are like door hinges

I like to use this analogy with my patients, and that’s comparing your spinal joints to a door hinge.
If a door is regularly used and occasionally lubricated, it’s unlikely to ever cause an issue. The doors in my home are over 130 years old and function just fine.  If you took a door from my home and let it go for several years without opening and closing it, once rust sets in it will only get worse and worse before it is completely seized tight.
A similar phenomenon commonly happens to shoulders, this is known as adhesive capsulitis, more commonly frozen shoulder. When a joint is not continuously moving properly, dysfunction is bound to occur. A similar phenomenon that happens to the shoulder can and will happen to a dysfunctional spinal joint. In the case of spinal degeneration, we are able to see and track such changes by utilizing digital X-ray in our office. A doctor of chiropractic, like myself is able to determine the severity of DDD/DJD and offer treatment options. Our office is equipped with a variety of ways to treat those suffering from DDD/DJD and help to slow and regress degenerative changes. Contact us for more information.