Chiropractic prevention for degenerative disc disease. The protective shock-absorbing intervertebral discs are between the bones of the spine or the vertebrae. These protective cushions naturally begin wearing down or degenerating as the body ages. The common term for this is degenerative disc disease or DDD. It is not a disease but the body’s natural aging process. It is called degenerative disc disease because it is a condition of the spine with deteriorating effects.
One of the things seen in degenerative disc disease and aging of the spine is that the soft disc, made up of a vast amount of water, slowly begins to dry out and dehydrate. The protein/sugar that is within the disc begins to dry out, and that starts a degenerative domino effect along with the tearing of the outside rings of the disc.
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Causes and Risk Factors
The most common cause of disc degeneration is aging. With age comes the loss of fluids/water. This means the discs get thinner and provide less protection. The shock absorbers don’t absorb weight, impact, and pressure like they used to. However, disc degeneration does not always occur later in life. Genetics can be a catalyst for development when young.
Individual environment vs. genetics
- Discs dry out
- Rings crack or tear
If involved in an occupation that requires heavy lifting, twisting, and bending, this can generate disc damage, but physical stressors do not automatically enhance disc erosion. An individual can do this type of work their entire life and not experience problems. It depends on the environment and the overall health of the individual, which can be assessed through chiropractic prevention and body composition analysis.
Chiropractic Prevention and Preserving The Discs
Individuals need training on proper body posture and body mechanics. A major contributing factor that increases the risk of nerve, spine/back pain due to disc damage. The back/spine should be moved like a crane. This means not bending over at the waist but squatting down with the hips and knees when lifting an object. Not everything can be done this way, but if an individual can eliminate too much bending at the waist, it will definitely help.
Do not neglect the core muscles. Core exercises will maintain the muscles around the waist, which also strengthens the rest of the body. All the muscles front, back, around the trunk, hips, and knees to the chest are all the core muscles.
Healthy Weight Less Spinal Stress
Beyond physical stressors, another important factor in preventing degenerative disc disease is maintaining a proper weight. Society has adapted more and more to a sedentary lifestyle. And home quarantine means being more sedentary. Emotional factors like:
This can cause excessive junk food consumption and rapid weight gain.
Lifestyle Adjustments Health Coaching
Implementing a preventive lifestyle to prevent degenerative damage is challenging. Everyone really should try to live as healthy a lifestyle as they can.
Education and training
Continual education on slowing disc degeneration is essential. This is what chiropractic prevention focuses on. Then an individual can begin implementing various tools for avoiding weight gain and learning proper posture and lifting.
Smoking accelerates the aging process by drying out the tissue, especially the spinal discs. It is known as desiccation and is why smoking is a major risk factor for degenerative disc disease.
Anything that stresses the discs for any amount of time can generate pain. For example, standing too long, even carefully standing straight, can induce discomfort and pain. Sitting can help, but caution needs to be observed. Sitting too long places more pressure on the low back than when standing. There must be a balance between sitting and standing. Experts suggest getting up and moving every 20 to 30 minutes. This is a perfect time to get up and do in-home walking exercises, physical chores, and anything that gets the body up and moving around.
Regular bending and stretching need to become a natural reflex. When the body begins to feel sore, stretch out the area.
The good news is that everyone, even those with a genetic predisposition to greater disc loss or fusion, has options for slowing down and minimizing disc damage. Maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening the core, and learning proper techniques for lifting for work, exercise, or sports will help. If diagnosed with disc degeneration, talk to a doctor or physical therapist about developing a chiropractic prevention treatment plan. They’ll be able to develop a program specifically designed to help.
Human Immune System
The immune system is highly complex and essential in maintaining optimal health. The main function of this system is to neutralize pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria that get into the body and affect the body’s homeostasis, eliminate any harmful substances from the environment, and fight the body’s cells that can cause illnesses like cancer. The defense system consists of innate and adaptive immune processes. The innate system includes exterior defenses like the:
Any organisms that get past the first line of defense must face the adaptive system, which consists of T and B cells. The adaptive immune system is a learning defense that constantly adapts and evolves to be able to identify changes in pathogens that mutate over time. Together, these systems provide a fortified resistance to any long-term survival of infectious agents in the body. Healthy lifestyle adjustments can help strengthen and boost these systems working to keep the body safe.
Mayo Clinic. (May 11, 2020.) “Packing on pounds during COVID-19 and how to turn it around.” newsnetwork.mayoclinic.org/discussion/packing-on-pounds-during-covid-19-and-how-to-turn-it-around/
The information herein on "Chiropractic Prevention and Relief For Degenerative Disc Disease" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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