Can a Chiropractor Make Degenerative Disc Disease Worse?
Can a chiropractor make degenerative disc disease worse? This question has been asked by some people who are not clear about what chiropractors actually do, and are afraid that spinal manipulations might end up worsening the situation for someone bothered by degenerative disc disease (DDD). This is never the case, and in fact, chiropractors may be the best skilled medical professionals to treat the condition, because they have the knowledge and the skill to effectively treat the issue, certainly without causing any further damage.
What a chiropractor does for DDD
Any skilled and knowledgeable chiropractor will attempt to improve joint mechanics by reducing inflammation in the affected area, and by improving spinal motion. In some cases, the chiropractor might also try to improve the function of intervertebral discs, unless the patient has advanced disc degeneration, and in that case it would not be possible. To help alleviate your DDD symptoms, a skilled chiropractor would probably do spinal adjustments to help restore spinal motion and to reduce the presence of inflammation.
These types of spinal manipulations will generally involve a specific area adjustment, associated with those joints which have become restricted or which show abnormal motion. Working to restore proper movement to these joints will call for a gentle thrusting technique applied directly to the area. Sometimes flexion-distraction technique will be used, which is a non-thrusting technique generally used to treat spinal stenosis and herniated discs. In other cases, instrument-assisted manipulation might be used, and this calls for a hand-held instrument which applies gentle force to the area without actually making any direct thrusts into the spine.
Other chiropractic techniques
There are other chiropractic techniques which are sometimes used to treat degenerative disc disease, particularly a process known as trigger point therapy. In this scenario, the chiropractor would identify any painful joints related to certain muscles, and then use direct pressure to relieve the tension. Manual joint stretching and resistant techniques might also be used by your chiropractor to relieve any kind of pain or discomfort you’re feeling. Therapeutic massage is also useful in many cases, because it can help to reduce the tension which builds up in certain muscles.
Instrument-assisted soft tissue therapy is also sometimes used, for instance the Graston Technique that is particularly effective at reducing pain and discomfort. Apart from manual approaches, a chiropractor might also use a low frequency electrical current to stimulate muscles and reduce inflammation. It’s also possible that ultrasound techniques might be used in order to reduce muscle spasms and any stiffness in areas around the degenerated discs.
This produces a gentle heat which improves circulation and reduces inflammation. It’s also possible that your chiropractor might recommend some type of therapeutic exercises which you can do at home in order to speed recovery. The main point of all these techniques is to ensure that the degeneration doesn’t progress, and that pain and discomfort are reduced, so you can have greater range of motion and full use of your body.