Disc Degeneration: A Common Cause of Low Back Pain
Almost all adults over the age of forty years will show some evidence of disc degeneration on x-rays. However, the great majority will not have back pain or, if they do, it will come and go. This should suggest that, although the degenerated disc may be a contributing factor in their pain, it is not the entire problem. Many persons who have been told from spinal x-rays that they have degenerated discs in their backs may have needlessly accepted the suffering without exploring all treatment avenues, which might possibly help.
With age, almost all discs will degenerate. However, from a variety of factors such as previous injury, genetics, and other as yet unknown factors, some discs begin to degenerate at an early age. Many adults will have a single disc in their lower back begin to "thin" by age 35 to 40 years.
The spinal discs are the soft cartilage pads that occupy the space between the vertebra or spinal bones. It is the disc that is capable of compressing and bending allowing the joints of the spine to move. Without discs, the spine would be a rigid column of bone unable to bend. When a disc begins to degenerate, it allows the joint to move improperly causing pinching of one part of the joint. The term used for this painful joint pinching is “impingement”. Impingement may be the source of the pain, not the disc degeneration. Itself, treatment corrects impingement will often relieve the pain associated with disc degeneration.
Chiropractic manipulation has proven to be a good method of correction of the impingement associated with disc degeneration. In a large study of chronic back pain patients at the Department of Orthopedics at University Hospital, Saskatchewan, Canada, researchers found that chiropractic manipulation was effective in relieving back pain in over 80%. Many patients had disc degeneration causing joint impingement and yet still had good results with chiropractic manipulation.
Anyone who has been condemned to a life of back pain because of disc degeneration should consider chiropractic treatment.