Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a condition in which the discs between the spinal column’s vertebrae gradually deteriorate, undermining the spine’s flexibility and its shock-absorbing capacity. It most commonly occurs in the cervical vertebrae (neck) or lumbar vertebrae (lower back).
DDD is most often attributed to aging. Over time, the discs that are largely made up of water, essentially “dry out” and begin to thin, resulting in less space between the vertebrae.
Degeneration can also include tears and cracks caused by activity or injury. Spinal discs do not have an abundant blood supply like other tissues of the body, so the ability to heal on its own is compromised. Unfortunately, once there is damage to a disc it cannot be reversed.
DDD isn’t always accompanied by painful symptoms. However, some individuals may experience chronic or debilitating pain symptoms, including:
- Pain that worsens with prolonged sitting or with certain movements like bending or twisting (relieved when changing positions, walking, or lying down)
- Tingling/numbness in arms or legs
- Foot drop (muscle weakness in the leg that indicates nerve damage)
Individuals with DDD can also develop additional problems such as a herniated disc or spinal stenosis.
Gradual wearing down of the vertebrae over time is normal, but suffering from chronic, daily pain is not. We offer a number of therapies that can be effective in alleviating the discomfort of degenerative disc disease.
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Our Functional & Integrative Approach to Identifying & Treating DDD
Functional Medicine looks for deficiencies and imbalances that may be causing or exacerbating symptoms. This means looking at a patient’s hormonal, metabolic, immune, and digestive systems. FM doctors may also consider toxicity and nutritional deficiencies as a source of inflammation. The goal of Functional Medicine is to assess and optimize all areas of health to 1) identify the root cause(s) of disease, and 2) treat the whole health of their patients to provide the best foundation for recovery and pain management.
After reviewing all of the factors contributing to your condition, your physician will spend time talking with you about your diagnosis and working with you to create a customized and integrative treatment plan.
Current medical research indicates that conservative, non-invasive treatments may be more effective than surgery in alleviating degenerative disc disease. These include:
- Acupuncture for its ability to help manage pain symptoms.
- Nutritional Counseling / Supplementation to lower inflammation that may be exacerbating your symptoms.
- Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine to help resolve musculoskeletal issues.
- Physical Therapy to decrease muscle and joint pain.
- Prolotherapy to help strengthen weakened tendons and ligaments.
These non-surgical treatments not only help you manage your pain but also help you improve your overall health. Furthermore, conservative treatment allows patients to potentially avoid surgery and also the risk of developing complications related to surgery.
We are here for you, and we want to help.
Our goal is to return you to optimal health as soon as possible. To schedule an appointment please call: 703-532-4892 x2