Can Chiropractic Care Help with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?

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Patients often come into one of our offices complaining of pain caused by Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). They’re in pain and want to know is Chiropractic Care can help. 

In our experience, the answer is definitely yes. And, in this article we’ll break down exactly what DDD is, what causes it and the care options available – including chiropractic care.

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is most prevalent among aging adults. Its symptoms include back pain that gets worse when seated, lifting or twisting. You also may feel numbness and general muscle weakness in the legs. 

Despite its name, Degenerative Disc Disease is not actually a disease but a condition, and chiropractic care can often deliver incredible outcomes through its holistic, non-medical and non-surgical approach.

What is Degenerative Disc Disease?

From the name, the condition refers to the damage or deterioration of the discs between your spinal vertebrae. 

Often, spinal discs start to wear out as you age. It happens to most people. In the case of DDD, however, there is rapid and severe damage in the process leading to pain.

Spinal discs are rubbery like cushions between your back bones (spinal vertebrae), and they help with support, flexing and shock absorption. When the cushions wear out, your backbones sink and, in the process, press against the nerves that traverse the spaces between them. Anything that touches the nerves can cause immense pain.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease?

Old age is the most significant cause of wear and tear in spinal discs. However, not every older adult has or gets DDD. Certain risk factors make some people prone to the condition. Understanding these causes can help you stay healthier and take better control of your health.

Disc desiccation:

When your spinal discs dry out, you can only expect that they will become thinner and unable to cushion your vertebrae properly. Discs dry out as we age. However, when you throw frequent dehydration and smoking into the mix, the result can sometimes be degenerative disc disease.


Your back does a lot of work that involves carrying your body’s weight. When you gain weight, you put more pressure on your spinal vertebrae. In effect, the spinal discs get squeezed and forced into desiccation and deterioration.

Accidents and trauma:

Just like many other back conditions, DDD can result from a trauma or injury that leads to swelling or soreness of back muscles, or the dislocation of the spinal discs or vertebrae. The damage could be from sports, manual labor or falls and auto accidents.

Weak bones and muscles:

Your back needs strength for the myriad of motions it gets put through every day. If there is a weakness in your bones and muscles, the resultant inflexibility can severely affect the discs. Weaker discs have the highest risk of slipping out of place, tearing or cracking. Regular cardio and strength training is the path to a healthy back.

What are the Symptoms of Degenerative Disc Disease?

Symptoms of disc degeneration include mild to severe pain and immobility. 

While the condition starts in the spine, over time, the pain caused by DDD could spread to other areas of the body. On most occasions, you will feel pain that starts from the back and radiates to your lower extremities.

Other Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) symptoms watch out for:

  • Stiff back 
  • Pain when sitting, bending, lifting or standing for long 
  • Tingling or burning sensation 
  • Numbness in your legs 
  • Reduced mobility 
  • Sciatica, which is a pain in your lower back, hips, and legs due to bone pressure on the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back to the feet
Chiropractic and degenerative disc disease ddd
Degenerative disc disease can be very painful when left untreated

How Can Chiropractic Care Help with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Chiropractic care is an alternative form of medicine that involves healing without surgery or pharmacological intervention. The treatment relies on evidence-based techniques that not only achieve wellness but also improve the quality of life.

Chiropractic care techniques for degenerative disc disease may include:

  • Spinal manipulation and decompression 
  • Joint mobilization 
  • Massage and soft tissue manipulation 
  • Physical therapy and exercise
  • Physical treatment with ice, heat, ultrasound or laser 
  • Nutritional counseling

Disc degeneration causes pain and difficulty moving because the bones of the spine get in the way of nerves. Chiropractic care for disc degeneration disorder includes applying techniques that help to rectify herniated discs and realign your vertebrae so that no backbones press against the super-sensitive nerves.

In the diagnosis stage of degenerative disc disease care, a chiropractor will assess the details of the condition, your symptoms and your past medical history. They will then carry out a physical exam and sometimes take a set of X-rays. 

This in-depth diagnosis reveals the location and extent of damage and helps the doctors decide the best chiropractic treatment approach for your condition.

Chiropractic Treatment and Care for Degenerative Disc Disease Involves:

Manual spinal manipulation:

The chiropractic doctor will identify problematical joints and realign them physically using a gentle thrusting force on your back. This manipulation helps to relieve pressure on the nerves between your spinal vertebrae.


If your degenerative disc diseases are a result of compressed vertebrae, your chiropractor may perform a non-invasive stretching technique on your back using a motorized table. It is a gentle and non-thrusting technique that corrects herniated discs.

Massage therapy:

Chiropractic massage therapies are deep tissue rub downs that aim to improve circulation and range of motion in the affected parts. The treatment also helps to reduce inflammation and achieve pain relief.

Chiropractors have many methods for dealing with DDD

Chiropractic Care vs. Surgery for Degenerative Disc Disease

Surgery is a common recommendation for severe cases of DDD. 

While we don’t believe spinal surgery is never a reasonable option for people with severe DDD, it is invasive and may involve artificial disc replacement or fusion with the help of bone grafting. 

Surgery for degenerative disc disease also carries risks such as infection, damage to your spine and nerves, pain and inflammation in the legs. And, it’s important to remember that recovery after DDD surgery may take several weeks to several months.

Chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease is different from surgery because it is non-invasive. Chiropractic therapy does not involve opening up your body. The treatment does not lead to risks or complications and healing happens much faster. There is generally no “recovery time” following a chiropractic adjustment. 

The treatment costs are also lower.

Chiropractic Care vs. Medication for Degenerative Disc Disease

The medicine for degenerative disc disease is a group of drugs called Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS). They help with pain relief, but they don’t achieve true healing. It’s a Band-Aid solution to the problem. NSAIDs are also a risk for the elderly. These drugs can cause severe gastrointestinal complications, strokes, heart attacks, and even deaths in cases of prolonged use.

Degenerative disc disease chiropractic care is non-medical; there are no pills or injections. The treatment is focused on whole-body healing, as opposed to masking the pain. With chiropractic therapy, patients do not develop severe complications, as is the case with pharmacological intervention. 


At Evolve Chiropractic, our goal is to improve the health and quality of life for all residents of Huntley, Illinois. Our techniques are backed by medical knowledge and supported by technology. Let’s help you find relief from degenerative disc disease.

Contact us to set an appointment.

{Note: This content is for educational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your healthcare provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that have read on this blog or in any linked materials.}
The Evolve Chiropractic Team

The Evolve Chiropractic Team

We're a team of experts in the field of chiropractic treatment and we're dedicated to fostering incredible levels of health and well-being. What do you want from your Chiropractor?

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About Evolve Chiropractic

Evolve Chiropractic is leading the way for modern, evidence-based chiropractic care.  With 10 locations through Chicagoland and Northern Illinois, we have become the go-to solution for headache relief, neck & back pain and overall spinal health.

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