Monday, December 3, 2007

What is Degenerative Disc Disease and can Spinal Decompression help?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a natural condition of the body that causes deterioration of the intervertebral discs.The discs that are in between the bones act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region). This deterioration is a gradual process that can take place over years. This can compromise the spine. Although DDD is relatively common, its effects are usually not severe enough to warrant significant medical intervention.

Long before Degenerative Disc Disease can be seen radiographically, biochemical and histologic (structural) changes occur. Over time the collagen (protein) structure of the annulus fibrosis weakens and may become structurally unstable. Also, water and proteoglycans(PG) content decreases as one ages. PGs are molecules that attract water. These changes are linked and may lead to the disc's inability to handle mechanical stress. Degenerative disc changes are more likely to occur in people who smoke cigarettes and those who do heavy physical work (such as repeated heavy lifting). People who are obese are also more likely to have symptoms of degenerative disc disease. A sudden (acute) injury leading to a herniated disc (such as a fall or a motor vehicle accident) may also start the process of degeneration

When the space in between the vertebrae becomes smaller as in DDD, the body's natural reaction to this is the construction of bony growths called bone spurs (osteophytes). Bone spurs can put pressure on the spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain and affecting nerve function.

Non Surgical Spinal decompression is one treatment that can help to restore the disc height. For patients who have chronic low back pain from DDD, and want a non surgical approach, spinal decompression may be the answer. Call our Glastonbury CT office (860) 633-8756 today to see if you will be a candidate for lumbar spinal decompression.

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