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While some painful spinal problems are caused by sudden, acute injuries, others occur for no other reason than advancing age. Degenerative disc disease falls into the latter category. But if your spinal discs are undergoing age-related changes that produce severe pain and other debilitating symptoms, you should know that you don't have to accept this discomfort as "just part of getting older." Our Birmingham chiropractors at Gremmels Chiropractic Center Inc., Dr. Gemmels and Dr. Carroll, can provide conservative care methods to help your spine age more gracefully without the aid of major surgery or painkilling drugs.
The term "degenerative disc disease" is actually something of a misnomer, since there's no actual disease at work. The discs between your vertebrae are constructed in a manner that allows them to cushion your spine against everyday jolts and bumps -- but this same structure has some vulnerabilities. A disc consists of a tough, fibrous outer layer called the annulus fibrosus, inside which is a gelatinous substance called the nucleus pulposus.
The disc's springiness and ability to maintain a certain height is due to its relatively high water content. Unfortunately, discs naturally lose some of this water content and flatten out with age. A flattened disc may begin to bulge until the annulus fibrosis herniates, or tears. The nucleus pulposa can then jut out of the tear and pinch nearby cervical nerve tissue. A bulging disc can also narrow the available space inside the bony canal that envelopes the spinal cord, a condition called spinal stenosis.
The flattening of older discs also affects other structures in the spine. The loss of disc height can put extra strain on the small facet joints that connect the vertebrae and permit spinal motion. This inflammation can promote osteoarthritis in these joints.
Common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include pain that seems worse when you're sitting or standing motionless for long periods. You may also have flare-ups of particularly sharp pain that last for weeks or months and then recede. Depending on which nerve roots are being pinched, you may experience weakness, numbness, pain or tingling in either the arms or the legs.
Our Birmingham chiropractic team can locate and view the troublesome disc or discs during a detailed spinal evaluation. We can then administer treatment using non-surgical spinal decompression therapy. Spinal decompression utilizes a mechanical treatment table that gently applies just enough flexion distraction force to produce negative pressure within the spinal column. This not only pulls bulging or herniated discs away from sensitive nerve roots, but it also infuses the discs with water to restore disc height. At the same time, other nourishing substances enter herniated discs to help them heal themselves.
Don't let degenerative disc disease dominate your life. Call (205) 854-3008 and schedule the natural treatment your spine needs!