Degenerative Disc Disease Or Degenerated Disc Treatment

It is essential to get disc degeneration, degenerative disc disease, or a degenerated disc treated before it impacts spinal nerves and joints. Degenerative disc disease & disc degeneration is treatable. CSC offers focused holistic care methods through NSD Therapy® that help the recovery of a degenerated disc & prevent its rapid progression; call us today for more information!

What Is The Degenerative Disc Disease And How Is It Treated?

side view of spine with healthy and degenerated discs a varrious segments

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a term used to describe physical alterations within a disc. Disc degeneration (degenerated disc) is the most common spinal condition in our centers in Malaysia.

As we age, degeneration naturally occurs in our bodies. The intervertebral discs (spinal discs) are part of these changes that lead to Degenerative Disc Disease. Some of these changes result from genetic predispositions, excessive load-bearing, poor posture, or injury. The degenerative changes resulting from advancing age may be considered normal. These changes can range in severity. These may include shifts in a disc’s appearance, fluid levels, nutrient levels, and behavior. The medical term used for spinal disc deterioration is “Degenerative Disc Disease.”

Degenerative Disc Disease is the leading factor in spinal disc tears, disc bulges, disc herniations, and even sciatica. We offer you the best non-surgical treatment options you need to live a healthy life. Chiropractic Specialty Center® is the only center that addresses the cause of disc degenerations through patient education and targets specific treatments. Our clinical teams of evidence-based chiropractors are the best experienced non-operative clinicians. Visit one of our centers to experience clinical chiropractic. Our knowledge, abilities, and technology are second to none.

How Do Spinal Discs Get Damaged?

To understand the root causes of spinal disc damage and degenerative disc disease, please watch the video below:

Is Degenerated Disc Same As Degenerative disc & Desiccated Disc?

A degenerated disc, disc desiccation, or degenerative disc are interchangeable terms describing natural or premature wear and tear of spinal discs. Desiccated disc or spinal disc desiccation is the initial and most common characteristic or feature of degenerative disc disease. Spinal disc desiccation represents the loss of fluid contained within the nucleus pulposus, resulting in spinal disc dehydration. The nucleus pulposus of the spinal disc is the core and heart of the disc responsible for movement, mobility, and synthesis of unique compounds that the disc needs for repair and maintenance. 

Meaning Of Degenerated Disc?

A degenerated disc is a term that defines wear and tears in the spinal disc resulting from a lack in the availability of nutrients a disc needs. The spinal disc, to stay healthy, needs oxygen, water, amino acids, and carbohydrates. Decrease or deficiency of any of these leads to a degenerated disc. Therefore, the meaning of a degenerated disc is a disc that is malnourished, worn out, and dehydrated.

Which Spinal Discs Are Most Prone To Degenerative Disk Disease?

In the lower back, the L3-L4, L4-L5, and L5-S1, the lowest three motion segments, are the most prone segments to degenerate and wear out. The L4-L5 and L5-S1 are the two most common motion segments in the lower back to bulge or herniate.

The C4-C5, C5-C6, and C6-C7 are most often prone to degenerative disc disease or changes in the cervical spine. The C5-C6 motion segments have the largest spinal disc in the neck, which is the most mobile. The C5-C6 is the most common site for degenerative disc disease in the neck.

What Causes Multilevel Disc Degeneration?

Multilevel degenerative disc disease has two or more degenerated or worn-out spinal discs. Excessive stresses on the spine due to poor posture, injury, hereditary, and lifestyle factors. Individuals in occupations requiring prolonged sitting are at a higher risk of developing desiccated or degenerated discs in multiple lower back segments. The most common cause of multilevel degenerative disc changes in the cervical spine is the “text” or “tech” neck. Text neck and tech neck are interchangeable terms used to describe a forward head and neck position while using computers, pads, or mobile devices.  

Causes Of Degenerative Disc Disease In Patients Under The Age Of 35

Poor posture, obesity, lifestyle factors, and congenital or hortatory issues are the leading causes of dissociated or degenerated spinal discs in persons under 35. Individuals under 35 diagnosed with spinal disc degeneration have the highest risks of developing severe neck and back issues resulting from slipped discs (bulging, protruded, prolapsed, herniated, or extruded discs). In addition to having higher risks for slipped disc, degenerative disc disease patients under 35 are also proven to develop:

  • Sciatica
  • Facet Hypertrophy
  • Hypertrophy of ligamentum flavum
  • Radiculitis
  • Spondylosis
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis

Accelerated wear and tear of spinal soft tissues (muscles, ligaments, and spinal discs) are the leading factors in the development of degenerative spondylolisthesis. Degenerative spondylolisthesis is a forward slip of vertebrae commonly occurring at C5-C6, L4-L5, and L5-S1 motion segments of long-standing degenerative disc disease patients.

 Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Lumbar disc degeneration and dissociation is the most common diagnostic finding in patients with lower back pain. Lumbar disc degeneration can occur at any of the five spinal discs of the lower back, but they are the most common in the lower three discs:

Disc degeneration in the lumbar spine can be the sole cause of back pain. A painful degenerated disc in the lower back results from inflammatory changes in the initial stages. As the degenerative process progresses and the disc wears out, other factors can contribute to back pain; we have included some below:

  1. Decreased room for spinal nerves (foraminal stenosis)
  2. Buckling of ligamentum flavum
  3. Facet arthritis (worn-out spinal joints)
  4. Bulging & herniated discs

As the spinal disc loses height, the opening at the sides of the spine where the spinal nerves come out (intervertebral foramina) decreases in size, causing nerve impingement and pain. Also, loss of disc height increases stress on the spinal joints of the lower back, causing them to wear out or degenerate. A degenerated or worn-out spinal joint is referred to as facet hypertrophy. 

Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerated spinal discs of the neck are a known source of neck pain. Neck pain can be caused by many factors and structures, including:

  • Muscles & ligaments
  • Neck joints or cervical facets
  • Intervertebral discs
  • Dura mater (outer tissue that covers and protects the brain and spinal cord)

Cervical disc degeneration often occurs at C4-C5, C5-C6, and C6-C7. A degenerated cervical disc becomes painful at the initial stages, like the lower back, due to an increased inflammatory response. The disc itself activates the inflammatory phase of degenerative disc disease in response to disc desiccation or disc dehydration. As the degenerative stages progress, the cervical disc loses heigh, resulting in nerve impingement and arthritis of facets (synovial joints).

Things To Avoid With Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration is a fact of life. If you live long enough, your tissues will wear out and degenerate. However, excessive or accelerated degenerative disc disease is not acceptable at any age, and patients with degenerative spinal changes need to change their lifestyle to prevent rapid progression. We have provided a few helpful hints on things to avoid with a degenerated disc disease:

    1. Avoid prolonging sitting by taking breaks every 30-45 minutes
    2. Set upright with proper support behind you and avoid slouching
    3. Avoid tech neck and text neck by holding your phone or mobile device at eye level or by limiting the amount of time you spend on them
    4. Make sure to get at least 8-hours of sleep. The recumbency of sleep help rehydrate a desiccated disc
    5. Avoid bending or twisting
    6. Enroll in preventive treatment programs that incorporate disc-specific methods of physiotherapy combined with chiropractic

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment

Degenerative disc disease treatment needs specialized skill sets and advanced therapeutic devices that induce ambition. As mentioned, spinal discs are avascular and void of direct blood supply. 

Imbibition is a natural phenomenon where the spinal discs obtain the required nutrients through diffusion. As such, the nutrients they need must get diffused inwards. Imbibition is a process that occurs naturally during sleep, but it can be induced with advanced spinal decompression therapy devices such as the RxDecom®. Traction devices or lower-level spinal decompression therapy devices such as the DTS units may not be as effective.  Please watch the video below to understand imbibition better:

However, for spinal decompression therapy to be effective, muscles, ligaments, and joints of the spine need improvements. It would help eliminate tight muscles (muscle spasms), weak ligaments, and joint inflammation to improve the treatment success rate provided by an advanced spinal decompression therapy device. Here are some of the most common therapeutic procedures a degenerated disc patients should get the following treatments and therapies in combination with spinal decompression therapy:

  1. High-Intensity Laser Therapy
  2. Flexion-distraction therapy
  3. Ultrasound & electrotherapy
  4. Myofascial and trigger point therapy
  5. Non-rotatory methods of chiropractic treatment
  6. Strengthen and stretching exercises
  7. Nutritional supplement

There are no silver bullets when it comes to degenerative disc disease treatment. To recover, the care you get must be comprehensive. In other words, you need to repair all damaged tissues and structures near the degenerative disc. At CSC, we treat degenerative disc disease through NSD Therapy®. NSD Therapy® is a multi-prong non-invasive therapy and treatment program designed to re-air damaged tissues in the neck and back.

Implications Of Disc Degeneration In Adolescents

Disc degeneration, poor posture, muscle weakness, and increased weathering activities are the leading causes of back pain in adolescents. Nowadays, more teenagers are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease than there were a decade ago. Our modern lifestyle is the primary reason for the increased number of teenagers diagnosed with disc degeneration—several well-published research articles alert of impending back pain at almost epidemic levels in young adults.

Although disc degeneration in itself may not cause pain, it can lead to spinal disc tears that will. The primary culprit in bulging, herniated, or protruded disc is disc degeneration. Early-onset degenerative changes with a disc will lead to pain sooner than expected. Published research found spinal disc degeneration in teenagers to be the primary factor in recurrent pain. According to the researchers, frequent flare-ups and recurrent back pain were common in those with disc degeneration. More importantly, teenagers with recurrent back pain must have their spine assessed for disc degeneration. Therefore, a thorough assessment of the spine is needed for teenagers with recurrent back pain. MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imagining) is the recommended diagnostic test for proper assessments of disc determinations.

Degenerated Spinal Discs And MRI

Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI is the “Gold Standard” in assessing the spine and spinal discs. Unlike X-rays or CT scans, MRI does not involve radiation. As the name applies, MRI uses strong magnets. To date, there are no side effects associated with having an MRI exam. Therefore, it is a safe modality for the young and elderly alike.

The healthy spinal disc has relatively high fluid levels. Prolonged sitting, poor posture, and traumatic events can deplete these fluid levels. When the fluid levels are low, the spinal disc is classified as a degenerated disc. MRI exams are the best diagnostic test for the disc as it reveals disc hydration or fluid levels. “Degenerative Disc Disease” or DDD is often reported as “Disc Desiccations” on an MRI report. The term disc desiccation signifies a degenerative change in a disc. Degenerative Disc Disease (also known as disc degeneration) is not an actual disease but a term used to describe physical alterations within a disc. Although often seen in the elderly, nowadays, it can affect young, healthy individuals.

Spinal Disc Degeneration Can Occur At Any Age

Spinal disc degenerations can vary, and individual differences are always present. Hence, a young adult can have what would appear to be a spinal disc of a senior citizen. And by the same token, the elderly may present with those in their twenties’ spinal discs. In other words, there are times when a young adult has degenerative changes that are advanced for their age. So, it is not always an age issue. Medical research has confirmed that 20% of adolescents have early signs of disc damage. Our recommendation is to get periodic check-ups to ensure a normal healthy progression as you age.

illustration of spine shown

Good healthy habits are essential to spinal wellbeing. In short, if you have a familial history of back pain or partake in activities that put undue stress on your spine. Remember: prevention is better than a pound of cure!

It is important to know how good your spinal discs are, in particular for those at risk. So, if you are at risk, you will need to be aware of the early degenerative changes in your spine. Early awareness is like having an early warning system. Hence, it can help you avoid potential life-changing issues. Degenerative disc disease leads to other more serious health issues. For example, a degenerated disc can lead to a bulging or disc herniation (referred to as the “slip disc” or “slipped disc”).

top view of a healthy normal spinal disc

Why Spinal Discs Degenerate?

For some, spinal discs degenerate at an alarming rate, far earlier than do other musculoskeletal tissue. Award-winning research in basic sciences revealed that the first definite finding of degeneration in the lumbar discs to be at age group 11-16 years. About 20% of people in their teens have discs with mild signs of degeneration; degeneration increases with age, particularly in males, so that around 10% of 50-year-old discs and 60% of 70-year-old discs degenerate! This award-winning research highlights the reasons why so many teenagers today have a slipped disc (sciatica).

Parents with kids who complain of back discomfort or pain should keep a close eye on the child’s development. If symptoms persist, visit us and let us find the cause. If caught early, we can help prevent degenerative changes. Therefore early detection is critical. We are here to help if you need us.

Schmorl’s Nodes & Disc Degeneration 

A common cause of spinal disc degeneration is schmorl’s nodes. Schmorl’s nodes are the result of congenital or hereditary issues with the vertebral endplate. The vertebral endplate secures the spinal disc to the vertebrae above & below. Endplates are critical to healthy discs as they are the point through which nutrients enter the spinal discs. Abnormalities, weakness & damaged end-pates as seen in schmorl’s nodes cause concern as they can lead to spinal disc degeneration.

Incidentally, 20% of the population has schmorl’s nodes. If you have a schmorl’s nodes, you will need to pay attention to the spine more. Contact our main center for information on what you can do.

Scoliosis, Prolonged Sitting, Poor Posture And Disc Degeneration

On a separate note, spinal disc degenerations are common in kids with scoliosis. So, if your child has a scoliotic curve, bring them to one of our centers. Our scoliosis treatment methods are geared to assist in inducing spinal disc rehydration through specialized care and lifestyle changes. We can help and have had significant success treating adults and kids with scoliosis.

Spinal discs degenerate due to excessive stresses placed on them. Prolonged sitting, sitting in a bad posture, familial history of disc degeneration, congenital malformations of the spine, and neglecting mild or moderate spinal conditions are all reasons for disc degeneration. Two key points worth mentioning as the primary cause of disc degeneration are interruptions in “Imbibition” and “Diurnal Change,” both of which we shall cover in the coming paragraphs. But first, let us help your understanding of a spinal disc’s architecture and function.

Degenerated Spinal Disc And Back Pain

side view of spine and spinal disc

Published MRI of Olympic athletes published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine reported Degenerative Disc Disease as the primary cause of pain. Yes, even Olympians have back pain. Having strong muscles does not make you immune to degeneration. There is no immunity when it comes to back pain!

The results of studies revealed spinal disc related conditions (slipped disc AKA slip disc) in 58% of the athletes examined Degenerative disc disease was the most significant finding.

Disc degeneration is now believed to be an inherited disorder, with heritability exceeding 60%.

Research Proved Spinal Discs Degenerate Faster Than Other Tissues Of The Spine

According to orthopedic surgeons Jill Urban and Sally Roberts, spinal discs show aging earlier than do muscles, ligaments, or tendons. They reiterated its clinical importance and association with back pain. Another article reported that disc degeneration of the lumbar spine is due to low back pain factors. In other words, back problems occur first, and once ignored, it leads to degenerative disc disease. What is worse is that most are unaware of fundamental issues with their back.

Mild conditions such as muscle tightness, ligamentous laxity, and core muscle weakness are part of initial back problems that lead to disc degeneration changes. In short, tight or weak muscles put undue stress on joints and discs. With increased pressure, spinal discs and even spinal joints start to wear out or degenerate. Hence, the need for corrective care as early as possible to avoid years of agony or complications.

Understanding The Spine And Spinal Disc Degeneration

To better understand degenerative disc disease, we need to take a closer look at the spine and the various parts of Jill Urban and Sally Roberts: Spinal discs show signs of aging earlier than do muscles. The human spinal discs can are soft yet sturdy pads that separate the bones of the spine (vertebrae) from one another. These specialized structures act as a ligament by holding the vertebrae of the spine together, a shock absorber, and as a pivotal point allowing motion. The adult intervertebral discs are the largest avascular (no direct blood supply) structures in the human body, consisting of three main components:

  • The Vertebral End-Plates
  • The Annulus Fibrosus
  • The Nucleus Pulposus

The Vertebral End-Plate

The top and the bottom of each vertebra are capped with a thin (approx. 1 millimeter) cartilaginous pad called the vertebral end-plates. There are vertebral end-plates in every spinal segment, except the first vertebra in the neck (C-1). Despite their name, these vertebral end-plates are not part of the bony vertebrae but interwoven into the disc.

cress section side view of l4-l5 spinal segment disc, end-plate, and blood flow

The vertebral end-plates serve; as an attachment to the bony vertebrae and as a platform from which the avascular spinal discs get the life-sustaining nutrients. The vertebral end-plates are like the spinal disc. The water, proteoglycans (specialized protein chains), collagen (a cartilage-like substance), and cartilage content of the end-plates mirror a spinal disc. This similarity in biochemical makeup helps the diffusion of nutrients into the hungry avascular disc cells.

Annulus Fibrosus

The Annulus Fibrosus is the outer layer of the disc. It provides the spinal discs with strong fibrous for support. Annulus Fibrosus has a higher collagen content but little water content (60% water) when compared to the nucleus. Its function is to contain the pressurized nucleus in the center and to attach the disc to the vertebral end-plates and the ring apophysis (harder surface at the periphery of a vertebra).

The Annulus Fibrosus contains about 15-25 concentric sheets of collagen called the Lamella. The Lamella is arranged in a particular configuration to give them the strength needed for support and to hold the pressurized Nucleus Pulposus. The Annular fibers are essential. In a healthy spinal disc, they connect bones and keep the nucleus in the center of a disc.

But when there are degenerative changes, these specialized structures can tear. Once torn, it can lead to a slipped disc of varying severity. Hence, it is essential to conduct periodic chiropractic check-ups for kids and adults.

Nucleus Pulposus

impact of imbibition on disc degeneration in animated graphic video

The Nucleus Pulposus is the inner layer of the disc resembling a soft, jelly-like substance. It has high water content, which enables it to sustain downward pressure while standing and sitting. Its function is to bear and carry the body’s weight and act as a “pivot point,” which allows for movements. Unlike the Annulus Fibrosus, the Nucleus Pulposus is water-rich. Nucleus Pulposus is a viscous, soft, pulpy, highly elastic, and highly pressurized inner structure of a spinal disc. The nucleus is proportionally larger in the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) due to their greater mobility degree. The nucleus is the part of the disc that migrates (slips) when the annular ligaments are worn out (degenerated).

The gentle stretching and relaxing of non-degenerated spinal discs foster diffusion through a phenomenon called “imbibition.” Imagine a sponge filled with water. When the sponge is compressed, the water is forced out. By removing the compressive force, water is “sucked” back into the sponge. Imbibition is a process through which the Nucleus Pulposus stays healthy and functional.

The Impact Of Diurnal Change

In the simplest terms, this is one method through which a normal healthy disc gets the vital nutrients needed. The other is diffusion enhanced by a phenomenon called “Diurnal Change.” Our bodies can expand and compress over a day. During the recumbency of sleep, the loading decreases on the intervertebral discs, and as such, the spinal disc starts to swell and get bigger. The free spinal disc starts to increase in size, resulting; in the disc absorbing fluids and increasing in volume. axial loading and its impact on disc degeneration

A non-degenerated healthy spinal disc will expand some 20%, increasing our stature by 19mm. A 19mm change in size corresponds to a change of about 1.5mm in each lumbar disc’s height. And as such, our height is measurably increased in the morning. The nucleus is a protein called proteoglycan that attracts water. Typically, discs compress when pressure is put on them and decompress when pressure is relieved. When a disc is compressed, its fluid content decreases; by taking the compressive force away: water levels normalize. The change in the fluid levels of a spinal disc is the nucleus’s sole responsibility through a process called “imbibition.”

Advanced Treatment Options For Degenerated Spinal Disc In Malaysia

Imbibition is the method through which the nucleus acquires life-sustaining nutrients from the vertebral end-plate. Without such transfer, the discs in their entirety will degenerate and eventually will cease to function. Surgeons Jill Urban and Sally Roberts stated that spinal discs show aging earlier than do muscles and advanced technology to treat even a complicated spinal disc-related issue. Therefore, if you are in pain or suffer from a spinal disc disorder such as spondylosis, slipped disc, neck pain, or sciatica, we are your best hope for a non-operative repair.

Our methods of spine care work even when spine surgery fails. But, we would rather have you give us a try before you opt for spine surgery. Call one of our centers today to start living a healthy, active life. Degenerative disc disease is the leading cause of disability if ignored! Contact a CSC clinic today for holistic degenerative disc disease or degenerated disc treatment through advanced methods & breakthrough technology today. 

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