Disease or is it your body adapting to environmental stressors?
Is degenerative disc disease a disease?
No, it’s not, but, it is a term used to describe the abnormal changes in your spinal discs as you age. Spinal discs are like 50 layers of kevlar (the outer edges) stacked on top of each other, they separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine. The discs are like shock absorbers for the spine, also allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative discs can take place anywhere in the spine, but it most often occurs in the neck and lower back.
Once these discs start to degenerate, neck and/or back pain can happen.
What causes degenerative disc disease?
A simple Google search, and you’ll find stuff like this.
As we age, our spinal discs break down or degenerate, which may result in degenerative disc disease in some people. These age-related changes include:
The loss of fluid in your discs. This reduces the ability of the discs to act as shock absorbers and makes them less flexible. Loss of fluid also makes the disc thinner and narrows the distance between the vertebrae.
Tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer (annulus or capsule) of the disc. The jellylike material inside the disc (nucleus) may be forced out through the tears or cracks in the capsule, which causes the disc to bulge, break open (rupture), or break into fragments.
These changes are more likely to occur in people who smoke cigarettes and those who do heavy physical work (such as repeated heavy lifting). People who are obese are also more likely to have symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
The above is correct except the first part. It’s not age-related. There’s no proof of this. I can show you an x-ray of a 90-year old that has a better spine than a 30-year-old. Or an even better example would be to look at your own x-ray and ask yourself why some disc’s look fine and some don’t. They’re all the same age.
So what really causes the discs to degenerate?
Any injury can begin the degeneration process. The biggest thing would be uneven pressure from posture and lack of movement. Discs get their nutrients through movement. Uneven pressure or lack of movement will limit the nutrients the disc receives. If that happens, it will start to degenerate.
Let’s look at the neck for a second.
As the space between the vertebrae gets smaller, there is less padding between them, and the spine becomes less stable. Is the body smart or stupid? In an effort to prevent the nerves from compressing the cervical spine will start to straighten, or whats called a reverse curve. This opens up the holes where the nerves come out. This will also happen if you stare at your phone all day. lol. (Bad posture).
The body reacts to this by increasing surface area and/or constructing bony growths called bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs can put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain and affecting nerve function giving you a whole bunch of symptoms.
The same applies to the lower back. The cervical and lumbar are the most common to be affected since they act as the shock absorber for the body.
Discs get their nutrients from movement. Uneven pressure or lack of movement will limit the nutrients the disc receives. If that happens, it will start to degenerate.
How to prevent this and/or correct degenerative disc disease?
Being mindful of your posture would be a good start.
Staying hydrated helps in more way than one.
Remember when I said discs get their nutrients from movement? What kind of nutrients are you supplying your body with??????
Seeing a chiropractor that adjusts the spine will ensure you stay aligned and can restore movement in the joints. When an adjustment occurs it creates a negative pressure that will allow the disc to “suck in” water and nutrients.
Low-level light laser therapy will also help in restoring and rebuilding the disc by stimulating the mitochondria to accelerate ATP production that will create a chain-reaction to heal.
Taking medication will help with any pain associated with nerve compression but it’s only masking a symptom and not addressing the cause. Medications will also deteriorate the spine and discs causing further damage.
Of course, to end, I have to state that I’m not a doctor and this is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of others. For any pain related to your spine, please contact a specialist for the specific cause.