A degenerative condition of the spine compromises its function and structure.
The most common cause is aging. Other causes are arthritis, infections, and tumors.
When you have pressure on the nerve roots and spinal cord caused by degeneration, it may have been caused by
- osteoarthritis – a breakdown of the cartilage at the joints of the spine;
- spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal cord; or
- herniated or slipped discs.
Other symptoms of spinal degeneration are
- sexual dysfunction;
- sensory loss;
- bladder- and bowel-function problems;
- nerve weakness;
- sharp or chronic pain;
- pain with movement or at rest;
- limited motion; and
- spinal deformity.
How Are Degenerative Spine Conditions Diagnosed?
Most degenerative-spine diagnoses start with an X-ray of the back.
Also commonly done is an MRI, or magnetic-resonance imaging, to show the nerves, discs, and spinal canal.
If any inconsistencies are found within the patient’s MRI and CT, a discogram, too, might be done, to see if the patient’s pain is caused by a damaged spinal disc. Then you and your provider will discuss your best treatment plan.
How Degenerative Spine Conditions are Treated
Your treatment plan will be personalized to your condition and its severity.
Most patients have no need for surgery – that’s usually necessary only in serious cases, such as spinal stenosis or herniated discs – but are well-served by non-invasive treatments, such as braces, medication, or exercise, to increase muscle strength and flexibility.
One of the more common and effective treatments for spine conditions is the non-invasive chiropractic procedure decompression. Spinal decompression therapy uses a harness and segmented table to gently stretch the spine through traction, relieving pain and facilitating healing by easing pressure on discs and, when necessary, allowing them to return to their proper positions. This generates the flow of healing nutrients such as water and oxygen to the affected area.
Among the conditions spinal decompression therapy is used to treat are herniated discs, degenerative disc disorders, sciatica, spinal neuropathy, and posterior facet syndrome, or worn joints.
Alternative Remedies for Degenerative Spine
There are other pain remedies, too – alternatives to surgery, physical therapy, and the Western solution of medication.
Practitioners of what’s known as complementary and alternative medicine, or CAM, are integrative health professionals whose practices and methods are seen as unconventional by most healthcare providers.
- homeopathy – the use of minute doses of natural substances;
- traditional Chinese medicine;
- massage; and
Many patients have used these methods to treat their pain and noticed improvement.
Also available are natural remedies. Discuss these with your original provider before moving forward. There could be side effects or interactions with current medications you are taking.
- SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine)
This is helpful with the wear-and-tear that comes with aging and can also help with depression brought on by pain, studies show.
- Devil’s Claw
Devil’s claw originates in southern Africa, where it has been used for centuries to treat arthritis, gastrointestinal problems, and fever. It’s a great anti- inflammatory.
- White Willow Bark
White Willow Bark is great for those with acute back pain.