It’s important that everyone understands what degenerative disc disease is. When we look at the spinal column, we have the bones that stack up on top of each other. They are called vertebrae and they are separated by the discs. Stress, tension, poor posture, accidents, falls, and high level contact sports, can take the spine and knock it out of alignment or create what is called a vertebral subluxation where the bones are not properly aligned. The bones are stuck in an abnormal position, so their mechanics are not sound. When they are in these abnormal positions, they have a tendency to pinch and irritate the nerves.
Now, as a chiropractor, the best non-surgical way that I can help a patient is by making a corrective adjustment to realign the vertebrae and get it squarely lined up with the vertebrae above and below, so the mechanics are smoothed out. When you have aberrant mechanics, you’re going to get friction and the bones are going to rub on each other and the cartilage will wear away. Then we will start to see degenerative changes to the disk and the bone. We’ll see bone spurs happening to the bone. The discs will start to get thinner and there will not be as much space.
That is what degenerative disc disease is. It is the bone spurs, the building up of excess bone, and the wear and tear that we see on the discs and the cartilage. We want to make sure that as we grow older or more mature, so to speak, that we don’t end up with a lot of misalignment, creating a lot of arthritic change or degeneration in the spine.
To combat that we recommend periodic checkups. Have your spine assessed. Get an x-ray done. Let’s take a look at the bones and figure out what’s going on. If there is a lot of degeneration or a little, that will determine the course of action. One thing we can do is make sure we use good posture. We should also make sure that we’re exercising and moving, because when we stop moving, that is when the joints degenerate more.
A car analogy is helpful. If I took my car and just parked it on the side of the house and didn’t drive it for several months, that car is going to degenerate. It’s not going to start up in six or eight months. It’s going to need some work. But if I just went out there and started it and drove it around the block two times a week, the car would be absolutely fine. So, we have got to keep it moving.
You have got to move well. You have got to make sure that everything is lined up well. These are the most important ways to prevent degenerative disc disease.