Overcoming Back Pain with Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that can be described as thinning or bulging of the intervertebral discs of the spine. It is extremely common with thousands of Americans being diagnosed every year.  However, more and more research is showing that many of these changes should be considered a normal any are not completely responsible for why a person hurts.

Degenerative disc disease is often diagnosed in the presence of back pain. A person is pain may choose to consult with a physician. X-rays and/or MRI’s might be ordered as part of the diagnostic process. An image is taken which may reveal thinning or bulging the intervertebral discs. The patient is then given the diagnosis of degenerative disc disease.

However, images can be misleading. There have been many studies that show that degenerative changes on x-ray have a very poor correlation with pain. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Signs of degeneration are present in very high percentages of healthy people with no problem at all. Many of these degenerative changes found on images are part of normal aging and are NOT associated with pain.

Pain is complex and is influenced by more than what is happening on a structural level.  In the presence of back pain, we may find tension, trigger points (knots), and tightness of lower back muscles.  In addition, stiffness of the upper back and hips might be present.  Weakness of the core and buttock muscles can be problematic as well.  In many cases, proper movement needs to be taught (e.g. how to engage the posterior chain) to help offload irritated back muscles.  However, the only way to know what may be contributing to lower back pain is to perform a thorough assessment.

After an assessment, our approach includes hands-on therapy to alleviate pain. This might include dry needling, soft tissue mobilization, or manipulation of the lumbar spine.  We also may mobilize the bones in the thoracic spine and hips to reduce pain if these regions were found to be stiff or painful.

Pain and poor mobility often go together. If we can alleviate pain and reduce stiffness and tension through the region, mobility often improves. The next step is to perform corrective exercises so the pain and mobility improvements hold.  The corrective exercises often target the muscles of the spine, core, and hips.

Once these muscles can engage better, we include activities and movements to train these muscles in full patterns. We progress from simple activation exercises to more dynamic movement patterns.

At Movement Solutions, our goal is always to get our patients out of pain, restore mobility, and empower them with knowledge to take care of their bodies.  In addition, we teach our patients what needs to be done to develop durable bodies that are resistant to pain and injury. If you’ve been dealing with lower back pain and have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, we know how discouraging that can be.  If you would like to know more about our services and how we can help you overcome pain and get back to your active lifestyle, inquire about or costs and availability or schedule a free phone consultation at (864)-558-7346. We would love to share with you how we can help.

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