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What Can A Chiropractor Do For Degenerative Disc Disease?

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Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is one of the most common spinal-related conditions. It is more common in adults over the age of 40. In the US, around 40% of adults have one degenerated vertebral disc, if not more. As your age progresses, DDD can become worse as it is a progressive disease, and the percentage can rise to 80% by the time you reach the age of 80. So, the question arises, can a Chiropractor do anything to help you with this condition?

Furthermore, for those who’re not familiar with Chiropractic care, you may have more questions. These questions can be, can a Chiropractor make your DDD worse? Is Chiropractic care better than other treatment options for this condition? How does a Chiropractor know about your condition?

Suppose you’ve similar concerns or want to know more about a Chiropractor for degenerative disc disease. In that case, you’re at the right place. Here you’ll learn about DDD, its causes, progression rate, risk factors, etc. And after learning about this condition, we’ll answer your concerns regarding chiropractic care for a condition like DDD. So, let’s start with knowing what DDD is.

Understanding “What Is Degenerative Disc Disease”

Using a simple explanation, Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a spinal condition that happens due to the degradation of a spinal disc, or we should say wear-and-tear on it. The most common symptoms of DDD are neck and lower back pain. There are some other symptoms of this degenerative disease which include numbness, weakness, and shooting pains in the legs or arms. 

In usual cases, the chronic pain caused due to DDD is on the lower side. However, you may face some episodes of high-level pain from time to time, which will not be very frequent. 

You may ask the reason why DDD is common in the lumbar spine (lower back) and cervical spine (neck). This is mainly because these spine areas go under the most stress and motion. Due to this, the neck and lower back become the most susceptible to this condition.

An individual who has to perform physical tasks on a daily basis is more prone to develop this condition. Age and family history are also a few common factors that can lead to the development of this condition in your spine.

How Fast Does Degenerative Disc Disease Progress?

So, now we know what DDD is, its common symptoms, and why it commonly happens in the lower back and neck. Knowing all that, the next thing we should know about is how fast DDD progresses.

Firstly, understand that the spinal disc degenerative process can either be sudden or gradual with time. In typical cases, this condition occurs in one of your intervertebral discs. As time passes, this disease can spread to your other discs. However, the rate at which it will spread will be relatively slower in most cases. 

DDD progress depends on the degeneration of your spine, based on your age (years of use which can start as early as when you become 20), misuse of the spine, or overuse. Now, in the US or any other country, this condition progresses with the user’s age as well as the individual genetic makeup. 

But, ultimately, we’re all prone or susceptible to the degenerative process of the spine. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll suffer from pain due to DDD.                                           

The progress rate will also depend on what you do after realizing you have this condition. You can lower the Degenerative Disc Disease’s progress by opting for some lifestyle changes that a chiropractor can help you with. If you stay stuck with that same routine, you were following before; you might see some fast progress in your degenerative condition. 

In a time period of 20 to 30 years, after you develop this condition, you can face some severe pain episodes. However, they’ll be less painful if you try opting for good practices in your lifestyle. Some natural treatments can help you treat this condition without going for the surgical path. We will discuss them as we progress through this post.

As You Age, Your Intervertebral Disc Structure Also Changes

Firstly, know that our spine discs are made up of a protein called collagen. The discs use collagen strands to get a proper structure and function correctly. As you age, the discs degrade, making them weak, which results in the annulus fibrosus (the disc outer portion) struggling to contain the nucleus pulposus (the disc inner portion). 

This leads to disc herniation, a condition where the spinal discs become less flexible. And this results in rupturing or tearing the disc, even with a minor twist or strain. Now, the cause of this problem is that the nucleus pulposus penetrates through the annulus fibrosus because of its weakened condition.

Such a degraded disc can push on your body’s nerves, which can lead to lower or severe pain. You can face dehydration of discs as this condition progresses.

With The Changes In The Intervertebral Disc, The Disc Will Struggle To Handle Movement 

If you don’t know this already, our spinal disc’s primary job is to handle the spinal movement in different directions while maintaining safety. With the development of DDD, your disk shrinks, mainly because of the weakened strands of collagen and disc dehydration.

And when this happens, your disc loses its height, leading to instability in the spine. Because of its degraded state, it will not be able to handle different shocks in a proper way.

Your Facet Joints Face The Consequences When Your Disc Fails To Handle Movement And Becomes Thin

The job of the facet joints is to help stabilize the spine. They do it by controlling the spine movement. However, because the disc loses its original height, the facet joints must go toward readjusting their movement because they also lose their original alignment due to this change. 

Now, since the discs are failing to control the movement of the spine, the facet joints have to go through additional steps to maintain the spine’s movement. This leads to extra pressure on them, because of which the facet joints become overworked.

Cartilage Can Degrade When Your Facet Joints Become Overworked

Cartilage is responsible for protecting the joints so as to make their movement smooth. However, when you’ve DDD, the cartilage can degrade or degenerate, resulting in problems in facet joints. Your body can face the overriding situation in which the facets move too frequently because of the cartilage absence. 

The Overriding Situation Can Lead To Spurs Development

Bone spurs happen near your joint, which is a part of your body’s defense against further damage. You’ll hear professionals calling it osteophytes, which is a bony overgrowth. These spurs happen when your body wants to stop the too-frequent movement of the facets.

However, bony spurs, even though it is your body’s defense system, can cause pinch serves because of their growth near the nerves that are leaving the spine. 

Now, from above, you can see how the Degenerative Disc Disease Progresses. Also, did you notice how DDD acts as a stepladder of these entire events? So, now you also know how this disease spreads from one vertebral level leading to another one. When one of your vertebrae is damaged, the other two, i.e., below and the above one, will need to perform extra work leading to an overworked state. 

Age was the biggest factor in the progression of DDD. However, that’s not the only cause. Let’s know more about the causes of this disease.       

Also Read:- Why Visit An Auto Injury Chiropractor After A Car Accident?

What Causes DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease)? 

As mentioned previously, DDD occurs due to the wear away of the cushioning in the spine. Once you reach the 40 age bracket, you will start facing spinal degeneration. But, it isn’t necessary that you will experience pain due to this. 

The reasons why a DDD patient faces pain are as follows:

Dry Out

Every disc in your spine contains a soft core made up of water mostly. As your age increases, the core starts losing water bit by bit. Because of this, your discs’ shock absorption rate decreases significantly as they also become thinner. 

Crack Or Tear

There are situations when a minor injury can lead to small cracks in the spinal disks. You’ll notice that such tears usually occur around nerves. A person can have minor or major pain, even if the crack is not big. In such cases, there are chances of your spinal discs cracking open. This leads to a condition known as a herniated disk. You may even suffer from a compressed spinal nerve because of this disease.


The degeneration of the spine starts in individuals when they hit the 20 and 25 ages. However, most of us will not see its effect till we reach the age of 40s. This is because the disc rate to wear down is gradual. 

Activity Levels

Have you been part of any sports in the past? Daily physical activities can lead to wear and tear of the spinal discs.

Family Genes

Suppose your family members had DDD in the past. In that case, your chances of developing this disease increase significantly. It can pass from your family members to you through genes.

Excess Weight Or Obesity

The spine faces extra load when an individual is obese or overweight. Your spinal discs can be compressed due to bearing this excess weight. Therefore, an obese person is more likely to develop DDD than a healthy or average-weight person.


Some studies suggest that a person who smokes regularly is more prone to spinal disc degeneration. Although the rate of wear and tear of the spine will slow, so you may not feel pain; still, this is a crucial factor.

What Are The Four Stages Of Degenerative Disc Disease?

So, now you know what causes Degenerative Disc Disease. However, sometimes people don’t feel the symptoms of this condition. This is usually because they’re still in the first stage of the DDD, known as the Dysfunction stage. Now, you may ask what happens in the first stage of DDD and when the signs of this condition become more prominent.

Well, we’re here to explain to you the Four stages of Degenerative Disc Diseases. Let’s see what each stage has to offer and how Chiropractors can play their role in it. 

Stage 1: Dysfunction Stage

  • The spine no longer has protection from forceful motion and shock
  • Vertebrae start losing its natural curvature
  • Discomfort, mild neck pain, or back pain

In most cases, all the signs and symptoms of DDD in this first stage are very mild. Due to this, not many will be able to figure out if they’re actually suffering from this condition. However, visiting a medical professional or a Chiropractor can help you know if you have DDD or not. 

When your spine starts losing its natural curvature, the signs indicate that you might have this condition going on. You may not face any pain when you’re in the first stage. However, the extra pressure on other discs can progress the aging of the joints, spine, nerves, etc.

Stage 2: Dehydration Stage

  • A continuous loss of function
  • Increase in discomfort, neck pain, or back pain (moderate pain level)
  • Spinal deformity will become visible
  • Bone spurs
  • Disc dehydration

The disc’s degradation becomes more noticeable when a person enters the second DDD stage. You’ll see them becoming thinner. Furthermore, bone spurs will be more common, which will cause bone deformations. Your spine curvature will turn more unnatural, and you may even notice the spinal canal narrowing.          

The second stage is the starting of moderate pain and discomfort. Many notices they’ve DDD in this stage only since occurring pain lead the patients to visit a doctor where they learn of their condition.

Stage 3: Stabilization Stage

  • A massive increase in the pain (Severe pain level)
  • Muscle stiffness and aches
  • Difficulty while moving
  • Spinal stenosis

In stage three, you’ll notice an extreme change in spine curvature and posture, along with decreased mobility and increased pain. Nerve damage will be more common now, and there will be the beginning of scar tissue formation. The discs will turn thinner compared to before, resulting in further bone deformation in some cases. 

Stage 4: Collapsing Stage

  • An extreme level of pain
  • Collapse

The fourth or final stage of Degenerative Disc Disease is a highly severe condition and is irreversible in most cases. Your bones will become too thin and might turn herniated and collapse. There will be almost no flexibility in your spine, and the pain will be frequent and of severe levels. The spine bones will fuse together, and the nerve damage will be more prominent. 

How Long Can You Have Degenerative Disc Disease Without Knowing?

When you know what causes DDD and its different stages, you can take extra precautions so you and your family can stay safe. However, as we already mentioned, everyone faces spinal disc degradation when they age with time. 

So, does it mean you’ll also feel pain because of this condition? That’s not the case for every individual. Here, look at these stats:

  • 37% of individuals who’re in their 20s have pain-free disc degeneration
  • 96% of individuals who’re in their 80s have pain-free disc degeneration

Since the progression rate of DDD is gradual, most individuals will not even realize they have it until they reach the 60s-70s age bracket. 

Ensure you remember that DDD is actually a condition and not a disease. Hence, you may feel pain as you age more, but the pain will range between nagging and sometimes disabling. 

How To Cure My Degenerative Disc Disease Naturally?

Till now, you know that DDD is a progressive condition. And that’s why the treatment you opt for to treat DDD should be toward managing pain and preventing it from getting worse. 

There are many medical, surgical, and alternative treatments out there that are common to treat the DDD condition. However, if you’re in the starting stages of DDD, it is better you try some natural treatment to treat your condition. 

It might sound surprising, but there are actually many effective natural treatments for DDD, including good posture, physical activity, relaxation techniques, etc. So, let’s see different choices for natural treatment for DDD and which one will be best for you.                                                 

Physical Activity

This may sound surprising, but having bed rest when facing back problems might not be the best idea. For sure, bed rest is a great way to lower the pressure off your back for one or two days. However, suppose you have a long-term back condition like Degenerative Disc Disease. In that case, you should avoid bed rest as it will only worsen your condition. 

When you take daily walks or perform physical exercises, you can keep your back muscles flexible as well as strong. Instead of sitting in one place, you should consider aerobic activities and basic swimming to keep your body moving. Continuous physical activities can help slow down the DDD progression and help you manage pain effectively. 

Furthermore, light stretches and daily walks can even help you lose weight, reducing pressure on the spine. Just make sure you don’t overdo the exercise and stretches since it can lead to more pain in the back. However, you can do yoga, which enhances the core strength of your body. Also, avoid doing exercises like toe touches and sit-ups, as they can worsen your back pain.

Temperature Therapy

Using a cold compress, you can naturally reduce swelling in the muscles around your spine. You can read some DIY guides online to make a natural compress or simply order it online. A patient with DDD can use it to reduce pain and inflammation. On the other hand, you can opt for a hot compress which helps with relaxing tight joints, muscles, and ligaments. 

Good Posture

In most cases, a bad posture can lead to more pain as it puts extra strain on your spine. That’s why a person should maintain a body posture when they have DDD, as it can help reduce pain while also preventing it from getting worse. Instead of slouching, you should try sitting and standing with a straight posture. 

Also, many people worsen this condition because they use their back instead of leg muscles to lift heavy objects. So, to avoid further degradation of your spine discs, make sure to maintain a proper and healthy body posture. 

Massage And Physical Therapy 

Massage and physical therapy together are known as one of the best natural treatments for DDD. Currently, more research needs to be done in order to figure out a standard treatment for this condition. However, these two therapies are quite effective in helping patients with pain relief. Some popular massage therapies include fascial release, soft tissue, and joint play. 

In addition to that, you will need to do some stretching exercises and relaxation techniques to get the best out of physical and massage therapies.

Chiropractic Care

Although chiropractic care is part of alternative techniques, it is still a natural treatment to recover fully from Degenerative Disc Disease. A chiropractor will not use invasive methods to treat your spine. They use hands-on techniques, or you may be more familiar with the term spinal manipulation. A chiropractor works on your DDD symptoms and uses natural techniques to reduce pain and prevent it from getting worse.

This way, with time, your body naturally heals itself without using any medication during the entire recovery process. 

So, these were some of the best natural remedies to treat the DDD condition. Now, let’s see what the best treatments you can go for to treat Degenerative Disc Disease are. 

What Is The Best Treatment For DDD Based On Your Symptoms?      

Are you thinking about how I can prevent Degenerative Disc Disease from getting worse? Well, the best solution to your problem is to seek an effective treatment when your DDD symptoms are still at bay. Natural treatments should always be your priority in dealing with this condition. However, sometimes it’s better to go for more popular treatments for treating DDD when you don’t have time to waste. 

Firstly, before we start with the best treatments for DDD, we want you to know something. As previously mentioned, the start stage of DDD is not painful in most cases. The symptoms are minor, and you may not even notice them. However, in case you do feel pain, then the treatment you should opt for will depend upon the severity of your DDD symptoms. 

If you only notice soreness and stiffness in your neck and back, you can use cold and hot treatments with some physical exercises. In case you still feel pain, you can opt for medication to relieve your symptoms so you can get rid of the pain. There are other options, too, that you consider, which we will discuss now. 

Anti-Depressants, NSAIDs, & Other Medications

You will find numerous medications which are effective in dealing with DDD symptoms. However, you should visit your healthcare provider to know exactly about your symptoms. Your doctor will offer you medications based on what you’re feeling. Furthermore, they will guide you on how often you need to take these medicines. 

So, what types of medications are effective for DDD? They are as follows:

  • Muscle relaxants
  • Acetaminophen like Tylenol
  • NSAIDs like aspirin
  • Anti-depressants

Spinal Manipulation

Yes, although we covered this in natural treatments, chiropractic care is more popular as the best treatment for DDD. A chiropractor can assist you in bringing out the best motion of your spine while also assisting in maintaining it. There are various techniques a chiropractor can use to treat DDD, spinal manipulation being the most popular one of them. 

You’ll need to make multiple visits to your Chiropractor in order to recover from DDD fully. Meanwhile, they will develop treatment plans for you while suggesting some physical activities to boost the recovery process. The care will depend on which stage you’re at of DDD. So, consult your healthcare provider first. 

Surgery (Avoid It If Possible)

In usual cases, surgery is not needed to treat DDD and is also not recommended. However, this is your last resort, and you may need it if nothing works for you. If your pain is constant and there is no relief in symptoms even after using the non-surgical treatments. Then, surgery might be the only solution for your DDD. 

Even in surgery, there are multiple options for this condition, which your doctor will tell you. If you go through the loss of bladder and bowel control or feel tingling or numbness, don’t hesitate to dial your doctor.

Can A Chiropractor Help With DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease)?

So, as chiropractic care for DDD was the primary topic of concern in this post, let’s finally answer that. Till now, we have already learned about DDD’s meaning, its symptoms, its causes, and the best treatments, including chiropractic care. So, can a chiropractor actually help with Degenerative Disc Disease? To answer it simply, yes, a chiropractor can help with DDD. 

A Chiropractor will examine your condition by confirming whether you actually have a spinal disc-related problem. In most cases, if you have DDD, your first symptom of this condition will be back pain. The Chiropractor will continue by examining the three potential causes of the pain:

  • Spinal joint degeneration might be leading to a disturbance in spine mechanics.
  • Thin and weak discs may be bulging, leading to pressure on spinal nerves.
  • Conditions like Spinal stenosis can lead to leg and back pain.

After considering all the potential causes and confirming you have DDD, a chiropractor will step toward diagnosing your condition. So, how does a chiropractor diagnose if someone has DDD or not?

How Does A Chiropractor Diagnose DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease)?

When you visit the Chiropractor for the first time, they will check your current and past medical history. Furthermore, the professional will learn about your present symptoms and what can be their potential causes.        

You can go through a neurological and physical exam as it assists with finding out the exact area where the problem is arising. It helps the Chiropractor know where the individual is facing restriction while moving joints, muscle spasms, abnormal spinal curvature, trigger points, etc. 

Undoubtedly, you can find a number of reasons why your back or neck hurts. Therefore, you will need to take some simple tests while going through the chiropractic assessment.

The Chiropractor will ask you to take a walk in order to observe what your walking style is and how well you maintain a good posture for walking, sitting, etc. You may ask, what is the point of this test? Well, here they actually want to know your body mechanics so as to understand in what way your spine moves.

After that, you might need to run an imaging test, like an MRI or X-ray. Once the examination is complete, your Chiropractor will finally diagnose your condition. And once it’s over, you will get a treatment plan to lower your neck or back pain and other DDD symptoms.   

What Are The Treatments A Chiropractor Uses For Treating Degenerative Disc Disease?

Now, a chiropractor, after understanding what your problem is, will suggest some treatment methods which will be effective for your particular DDD condition. A Chiropractor for degenerative disc disease aims to enhance your joint mechanics by reducing inflammation and strengthening spinal motion.

Suppose you’re not a patient in the advanced stage of disc degeneration. In that case, the Chiropractor might go for enhancing your intervertebral disc function. 

Most chiropractors will use spinal manipulation or spinal adjustment in order to treat the DDD symptoms of a patient. Now, spinal manipulation has many types, including:

  • Flexion-distraction therapy: In this therapy, a chiropractor uses a non-thrusting, gentle technique. Such treatment is common to treat spinal stenosis and herniated discs. 
  • Specific spinal technique: Firstly, the Chiropractor will pin down the restricted joints and the joints which are showing abnormal motion. After that, they will use a thrusting technique with a gentle force to restore the joint’s movement. 
  • Instrument-assisted manipulation: In this technique, a chiropractor uses an instrument they hold in hand. They use a thrusting method with a gentle force without directly directing force toward the spine.

A chiropractor may even use manual therapies to treat the symptoms of DDD. Here are some of the popular manual techniques they use:

  • Trigger point technique: In this therapy, the Chiropractor pinpoints your muscles’ painful points. After that, they put direct pressure on these spots in order to relieve tension.
  • Therapeutic massage: You can reduce muscle tension by taking a chiropractor’s massage.
  • Resistance techniques and manual joint stretching: The Chiropractor can either use both or one of the techniques to relieve DDD symptoms.
  • Instrument therapy: Graston technique is a popular example of this manual therapy. In this therapy, a chiropractor uses an instrument that helps in reducing pain and other DDD symptoms.


Other Treatments 

Until now, we have learned about spinal manipulation as well as manual therapies, which a chiropractor generally uses to relieve the symptoms and pain caused due to DDD. However, there are a few other techniques as well that might be effective for you, including:

  • Electric nerve stimulation: In the technique, an electrical current of low frequency will be used in order to stimulate a person’s muscles, which helps reduce inflammation.
  • Ultrasound: In this method, sound waves are sent to a person’s muscle tissues which may aid in lowering pain, muscle spasms, and stiffness. This method can lead to the occurrence of gentle heat, which further aids in enhancing circulation.

While all these techniques are effective in dealing with DDD, a chiropractor will also suggest some therapeutic exercises. These exercises can help with boosting the technique results used on you by a chiropractor. 

Chiropractic Care Vs. Surgery For DDD

As already mentioned, surgery is your last resort for treating DDD. If your case is severe, surgery might be the only available option for you. 

Without a doubt, if your healthcare provider tells you that surgery will be the best treatment for your DDD, you should listen to them. However, if you’ve other options available other than surgery, it would be better to go for them instead. Surgery, as you may already know, is invasive. And in most cases, you will need to go through artificial disc replacement. Furthermore, techniques like bone grafting are quite common in DDD surgery.

Not to forget, surgery for DDD carries a lot of risks, like damage to the nerves and spine, inflammation in the legs, infection, and pain. After the surgery, you’ll need to take weeks to even months to recover. 

On the other hand, chiropractic care for Degenerative Disc Disease is much safer than surgery as it is non-invasive. You’ll not need to spend months in your bed for full recovery when considering chiropractic care. Furthermore, it is safe, and the healing is much faster in this treatment. 

And finally, Chiropractic care is not only safe but also more affordable compared to unsafe and expensive surgery.


Although Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a progressive condition, its symptoms can be treated with proper and timely treatment such as Chiropractic care. While medicine and surgery methods will work on fixing your specific condition, a chiropractor will use its best practice to treat you as a whole. 

So, what can a chiropractor do for degenerative disc disease? They can treat your condition using non-invasive methods and educate you on stress management, lifestyle goals, and nutrition. A chiropractor’s care is not only about treating your DDD condition. They do much more than that.

So, are you ready to get the best chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease? At Realign Spine, our professional Chiropractor will learn about your medical history, diagnose your condition, and according to that, will provide you with the best chiropractic treatment. He has over 26 years of Chiropractic experience and is also a certified Chiropractor.

Get the best help to treat your DDD effectively! Book an appointment with our professional Chiropractor by calling +1-888-269-7246. You can also drop an email at

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