The process of aging can be challenging as your body increasingly succumbs to wear-and-tear — especially in the complex structures of your spine. Called degenerative disc disease, this condition is extremely common, affecting one-third of adults in the United States between the ages of 40 and 59, a number that doubles between the ages of 60 and 69, and quadruples between the ages of 70 and 79!
At Mass Ave Chiropractic, under the experienced guidance of Dr. Joe Kielur, our team specializes in the many problems that can affect your musculoskeletal system, with an emphasis on your spine. And one of the conditions we routinely handle is degenerative disc disease.
To help you better understand degenerative disc disease, here are some answers to the most commonly asked questions, starting with the most obvious.
Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by 23 discs, which provide crucial support and cushioning. These discs are made of a tough exterior of collagen fibers, which house a jelly-like substance on the inside. As you age, your discs may lose moisture, and the jelly-like interior begins to dry up, which causes your discs to compress, leaving your vertebrae to rub together.
When your vertebrae rub together, bone spurs can develop, which can pinch or compromise the many nerves that run along your spine.
No. Degenerative disc disease isn’t a disease in the traditional sense as it stems from normal, and natural, wear-and-tear.
No. The aging process in your discs occurs in almost everyone given enough time, but many feel no symptoms at all. In fact, the human body has an incredible way of compensating for age, and your spine may function perfectly well for years with degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease affects people differently, but when it makes itself known, the first signs are usually pain, discomfort, and numbness. These symptoms may be localized, usually in your lower back or in your neck, or they can radiate outward. The degree of your discomfort typically depends upon the degree of nerve impingement.
For example, if you have moderate-to-severe degeneration in your lower back, you may feel pain, numbness, or tingling down into your legs. And when it comes to your neck, these symptoms may radiate into your arms.
The short answer is not easily. Your discs do not benefit from their own blood supply, which means they’re limited in their ability to repair themselves. As well, when they’re compressed, any supply of nutrients or oxygen is cut off.
Yes, and quite effectively. At our practice, we turn to DRS Protocols™, in which we rely on axial adjustments and decompression to create more space between your vertebrae. In giving your discs more room again, we restore the flow of resources, such as water, oxygen, and valuable nutrients, which can reduce your inflammation and encourage healing, allowing you to return to a more active lifestyle.
If you have more questions about degenerative disc disease, please contact our office in Indianapolis, Indiana, to set up an appointment.