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I was told I have DDD, but what is Degenerative Disc Disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is not really a “disease,” but rather a term used to describe a condition that develops gradually and worsens over time. DDD indicates that the discs in the spine are the primary cause of the symptoms, and that the degenerative changes are advanced. To some degree intervertebral discs lose their flexibility, elasticity, and shock absorbing characteristics as we age. Abnormal or excessive mechanical stresses/injuries of the past coupled with hereditary, developmental, and metabolic influences can rapidly accelerate this process.

As the involved disc dries out and loses height, it causes the vertebra to become closer together which narrows the holes through which the nerve roots pass. A dry, hard disc can absorb less shock and is more easily torn. This results in a greater likelihood of herniation or bulge which further compresses or pinches the nerves.


What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis Syndrome
In approximately 15% of the population, the sciatic nerve runs through the piriformis muscle rather than beneath it. When the muscle shortens or spasms due to trauma or overuse, it can compress or pinch the sciatic nerve beneath the muscle. This can be referred to as entrapment neuropathy. Piriformis Syndrome is often the major cause of sciatica when the nerve root is normal.


Many people think they have sciatica, what exactly is it?

Sciatica / Sciatic Neuritis / Sciatic Nerve Pain / Leg Pain

Sciatica (or Sciatic Neuritis) is caused by compression and/or irritation of one of five nerve roots that exit the lumbar spine that join together to form the sciatic nerve. This nerve runs through the buttock muscles, past the hip joint, into the thigh, past the knee, down into the calf, ankle, and foot to the toes. Sciatica is usually caused by the compression of lumbar nerve roots L4 or L5 or S1, but sometimes sacral nerve roots S2 or S3. The symptoms are felt in the lower back, buttock, hip and/or various parts of the leg and foot. In addition to pain, which is sometimes severe, there may be numbness, muscular weakness, tingling, and difficulty in supporting weight on the affected leg.

Sciatica is a set of symptoms, rather than a diagnosis, for what is irritating the root of the nerve causing the pain. The most common causes of sciatica are degenerative disc disease or degenerative joint disease. It may also be caused by pregnancy or nerve entrapment





What is Degenerative Joint Disease / Osteoarthritis?

Degenerative Joint Disease / Osteoarthritis (OA)
Osteoarthritis (OA) is also known as degenerative arthritis or Degenerative Joint Disease (DJD). In the spine, it usually means that multiple osteoarthritic changes are found in several areas. Any joint in the body can be exposed to abnormal or excessive mechanical stress or injury, however, the weight bearing joints of the spine, hip, and knee are the most common.

Factors that can contribute to the development of OA are: old injuries, poor health habits, a weakened immune system, and/or hereditary factors. Osteoarthritis is not a disease in the sense that a patient can “catch it”, but is the body’s natural response to abnormal or excessive mechanical stress over time coupled with hereditary, developmental, and metabolic influences. It is not necessarily a disease of the old because many younger people can have abnormal or excessive mechanical stress too, and not all older people do.

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the leading cause of chronic disability in the United States. As the stress continues and accelerates the joints may lose normal contour and abnormal amounts of fluid may build up inside the joint along with pieces of floating debris. Early on, a patient may only experience joint aches after physical work or exercise, which fades and then returns as the affected joint is used or overused. As the cartilage between the bones gradually thins, the patient increasingly experiences pain upon weight bearing, including walking, standing, and sitting as well as many other movements in between.

As a result of the patients attempt to avoid certain movements because of the pain, regional muscles may atrophy and ligaments may become more lax while other muscles may spasm in an attempt to limit the abnormal motion and reduce the pain, all resulting in further stress to the involved joints thereby accelerating and worsening the process. Now, the joint pain and stiffness occurs after periods of inactivity such as while sitting for long car rides or watching a long movie. Later, the pain often becomes substantial even at complete rest or with very little movement. This is the degenerative cycle in action – where everything makes everything else worse in an accelerating downward spiral of pain and disability.


Scoliosis – How do I know if I have it?

A change in your posture is usually the first sign that you or your child may have an abnormal curvature of the spine. Scoliosis is predominately found in females. X-ray is one tool used by Chiropractors to detect and measure scoliosis. No one dies from scoliosis, but in some cases, a person can have breathing or heart problems if the curve is very severe. Many cases of scoliosis go undiagnosed. Scoliosis sufferers should be under chiropractic care to restore their postural abnormalities. If you suspect a problem contact our office today!

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