When a back pain patient with degenerative disc disease first sees their own x-rays, they often ask “is that really me…how did that happen?” The next question is usually “can disc degeneration be hereditary?” These are both very good questions.
In my opinion, degenerative disc disease is mostly the result of abnormal wear and tear on the spinal discs from misalignment’s (what chiropractors call vertebral subluxations) of the spine. Just like the tread on a tire wears uneven when the front of a car is out of alignment. Secondary to vertebral subluxation is an unhealthy lifestyle.
The same poor lifestyle choices that lead to diseases of excess, such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, and diabetes, can cause spinal degeneration. After-all, the spine, discs, muscles, ligaments and tendons are all living tissue. Living tissue thrives within the healthy (internal) context created by clean living and plenty of exercise.
I do believe there is a hereditary component to degenerative disc disease. But at the same time, I think that switch can be turned off with a healthy lifestyle and proper care of the spine with regular exercise and chiropractic adjustments.
Disc degeneration is also progressive. As long as the conditions are in place for spinal degeneration to occur, it will pick up steam and move forward…doing most of it’s damage after age 40.
Can spinal disc degeneration be stopped, slowed, or reversed?
A certain amount of wear and tear to the intervertebral disc is going to happen as we age no matter what we do. But it my opinion, we can dramatically slow down the degenerative process with proper spinal care and lifestyle modifications…especially diet and exercise. The diet I prefer is a plant based diet, and my best resources are Dr. John McDougall MD and Jill Nussinow, RD.
If anything, children tend to take on the habits (good and bad) of their parents into adulthood. These habits either steer them in the direction of health or illness…including degenerative disc disease.
My advice…find yourself a good chiropractor that understands nutrition and exercise (not all of them do) that can help you put the brakes on your DDD. If you are willing to make changes for the better, you can live a long, healthy, active life even with advanced disc disease…Really!
Dr. Eben Davis is clinic director of Executive Express Chiropractic in downtown San Francisco. To schedule a complimentary consultation call 415-392-2225.
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