Can a Chiropractor Help with Degenerative Disc Disease?

Lower back pain leading to curved spine due to degenerative disc disease. Lets see how a chiropractor can help him

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a common condition affecting the spine, often causing discomfort and limited mobility. 

The discs between our vertebrae gradually break down as we age, leading to pain, stiffness, and sometimes nerve compression. 

In severe cases, conditions like spondylolisthesis, where one vertebra slips forward or a hunchback appearance due to spinal curvature, may develop.

Many wonder about these challenges: Can a chiropractor help with degenerative disc disease? 

Chiropractors specialize in treating musculoskeletal conditions and aim to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and enhance overall spinal health by providing hands-on adjustments and prescribing therapeutic exercises.

While they cannot reverse degenerative changes, chiropractic care can often provide relief from symptoms and improve the quality of life for those living with DDD.

Let’s have a detailed overview of the condition, possible outcomes, and chiropractic treatment.

Overview of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a common condition that affects the spine as we age. 

It occurs when the discs between the vertebrae break down, leading to pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility. 

While DDD is a natural part of aging, it can cause significant discomfort and impact daily activities. Chiropractors play a crucial role in managing DDD symptoms. 

They can help alleviate muscle spasms and tension through adjustments and manipulations. 

Many people wonder whether they should see a chiropractor or get a massage for DDD. While massages can provide temporary relief, chiropractic care offers long-term solutions by addressing the underlying spinal misalignments. 


  • Aging: As people age, the discs in their spine naturally lose moisture and flexibility, making them more prone to degeneration.
  • Injury: Trauma to the spine, such as a car accident or fall, can damage the discs and lead to degenerative changes.
  • Smoking: Smoking reduces blood flow to the spine, which can impair the discs’ ability to heal and increase the risk of degeneration.
  • Obesity: Excess weight puts added pressure on the spine, speeding up the degenerative process in the discs.


  • Persistent or intermittent back pain, often worsened by sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting.
  • Pain that radiates to the buttocks, thighs, or lower legs, known as sciatica
  • The legs or feet may experience numbness or tingling sensations
  • Weakness in the legs or difficulty walking
  • Stiffness or decreased flexibility in the spine
  • Pain that worsens with physical activity or prolonged standing
  • Episodes of acute pain or flare-ups, followed by periods of relative relief

How does DDD Impact the Spine?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is a common condition that affects the spine, causing pain, stiffness, and mobility issues. 

Understanding how DDD impacts the spine is crucial for effectively managing and treating this condition.

Effects on the Spinal Structure

  • Degeneration of intervertebral discs.
  • Changes in spinal alignment and stability.
  • Compression of nerve roots and spinal cord.

Symptoms and Impacts

  • Chronic back pain, particularly in the lower back, persists.
  • The limbs experience radiating pain, numbness, or tingling.
  • Reduced mobility and flexibility.
  • Decreased quality of life and functional limitations.

Progression and Complications

Potential complications such as 

  • Herniated discs 
  • Spinal stenosis.

These complications may impact daily activities and overall health.

Treatment and Management Strategies

  • Conservative approaches like physical therapy and medication.
  • Surgical interventions for severe cases.
  • Lifestyle modifications to alleviate symptoms and slow down progression.

How Chiropractors Diagnose Degenerative Disc Disease?

Diagnosing DDD entails a series of steps aimed at identifying the specific cause of the symptoms and formulating an appropriate treatment plan.

Chiropractors play a pivotal role in this process by assessing the patient’s symptoms, conducting physical examinations, and utilizing various diagnostic tools.

By focusing on the spine’s alignment and function, they diligently identify any abnormalities or signs of degeneration.

Here’s how a chiropractor can help in diagnosing DDD:

Initial Assessment

  • Reviewing the patient’s medical history, including any past injuries or conditions related to the spine.
  • Conducting a thorough physical examination to assess posture, range of motion, and spinal alignment.
  • Asking about back pain, stiffness, numbness, or tingling sensations.

Diagnostic Imaging

Ordering imaging tests such as:

  1. X-rays
  2. MRI scans
  3. CT scans

Differential Diagnosis

Ruling out other potential causes of back pain and related symptoms, such as:

  1. Muscle strains 
  2. Spinal fractures 
  3. Spinal stenosis.

Through all these assessments, chiropractors rule out the problems mentioned above of the spine to start the treatment.

4 Stages of Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects the spine, causing pain and discomfort as the discs between the vertebrae wear down over time. Consequently, understanding the stages of degenerative disc disease can help individuals manage their symptoms and seek appropriate treatment.

Here are the four stages:

  1. Early Degeneration: In this stage, the discs may show signs of wear and tear, such as small tears or cracks. These changes may not cause symptoms initially, but they can progress over time.
  2. Prolapsed Disc: As the degeneration progresses, the discs may bulge out of place, putting pressure on nearby nerves. This can cause pain, numbness, or tingling in the body part supplied by the nerve originating from the vertebrae.
  3. Herniated Disc: In this stage, the outer layer of the disc ruptures, causing the inner gel-like substance to leak out. This can cause severe pain and other symptoms as the disc presses on nerves or the spinal cord.
  4. Severe Degeneration: In the final stage, the discs may collapse completely, causing the vertebrae to rub against each other. As a result, chronic pain, stiffness, and reduced mobility can occur from this condition.

How Can a Chiropractor Help with Degenerative Disc Disease?  

If you’re struggling with degenerative disc disease, you’re likely familiar with the discomfort and limitations it can bring to your daily life.

Nevertheless, a chiropractor can offer various treatments and techniques to help manage the symptoms and improve your quality of life.

Here’s how a chiropractor can assist with degenerative disc disease:

Specific Spinal Manipulation

Chiropractors are skilled in performing adjustments to the spine, which can help alleviate pressure on the affected discs and improve spinal alignment.

By realigning the spine, chiropractors aim to reduce pain and improve mobility.

Flexion-Distraction Technique 

This gentle, hands-on approach involves using a specialized table to stretch and decompress the spine.

Consequently, it can help relieve pressure on the discs, reduce inflammation, and improve mobility in the affected area.

Instrument-Assisted Manipulation

Some chiropractors may use tools or instruments to adjust, particularly when manual manipulation is unsuitable. These instruments can provide targeted adjustments with less force, making them ideal for individuals with degenerative disc disease.

Joint Mobilization

Chiropractors may also use techniques to mobilize stiff or restricted joints in the spine. By gently moving the joints through their full range of motion, they can improve flexibility and reduce pain associated with degenerative disc disease.

Nutritional Counseling

They may recommend supplements or dietary changes to promote healing and reduce symptoms. It includes:

  • Oats 
  • Grain Bread
  • Leafy Green Vegetables
  • Avoid Fat rich food

Rehab and Exercise 

Chiropractors frequently recommend specific exercises and rehabilitation programs to strengthen the muscles that support the spine. 

Chiropractors often prescribe specific exercises and rehabilitation programs to help strengthen the muscles supporting the spine.

Complementary Therapies for Degenerative Disc 

Chiropractor deep tissue massage

While traditional treatments such as medication and surgery can be effective, many people seek out complementary therapies to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

Here, we’ll explore some of the complementary therapies that may be beneficial for degenerative disc disease.


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese healing technique that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body to promote healing and alleviate pain. 

Some studies suggest that acupuncture may be effective in reducing pain and improving function in people with degenerative disc disease. 

It’s a safe and non-invasive treatment option that can be used alongside other therapies.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help relieve muscle tension, improve circulation, and reduce pain associated with degenerative disc disease. Moreover, a skilled massage therapist can target the muscles surrounding the spine to release stress and improve flexibility. 

Regular massage sessions may provide ongoing relief from symptoms and improve overall well-being.

Yoga and Pilates

Yoga and Pilates are low-impact forms of exercise that focus on strengthening the core muscles, improving flexibility, and promoting relaxation. 

However, working with a qualified instructor who can modify poses and movements to accommodate your specific needs and limitations is essential.

Case Studies

Patient Profile:

  • Name: Sarah Thompson
  • Age: 45
  • Occupation: Office Manager

Medical History:

Sarah has been experiencing chronic lower back pain for the past five years. Despite this, she was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD) three years ago. Since then, she has been managing the condition with pain medications and occasional physical therapy sessions.


Dr. John conducts a thorough physical examination and reviews Sarah’s medical history and imaging reports.

He explains the role of chiropractic care in managing degenerative disc disease and discusses the potential benefits of spinal adjustments.

Dr. John develops a personalized treatment plan for Sarah, which includes:

  • Spinal adjustments.
  • Therapeutic exercises to strengthen the muscles supporting the spine and improve posture.
  • Ergonomic modifications to Sarah’s workspace to minimize strain on her lower back.
  • Dietary and lifestyle recommendations to support overall spinal health.


After a few weeks of chiropractic care, Sarah reports a noticeable reduction in her lower back pain and leg symptoms.

With ongoing chiropractic treatment and lifestyle modifications, Sarah continues to experience long-term relief from her symptoms and maintains her spinal health.


1. Are there any risks associated with chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease?

    While rare, some risks may include temporary soreness or discomfort after treatment. However, serious complications are uncommon when receiving chiropractic care from a qualified practitioner.

    2. How often do I need to see a chiropractor for degenerative disc disease?

    Your individual condition and treatment plan will determine the frequency of visits. Initially, you may need more frequent visits, which can taper off as your symptoms improve.

    3. Can chiropractic care prevent degenerative disc disease from getting worse?

    Chiropractic care can help manage symptoms and improve spinal health, potentially slowing down the progression of degenerative disc disease.

    4. Will chiropractic care cure degenerative disc disease?

    Chiropractic care cannot cure degenerative disc disease, but it can relieve symptoms and improve the quality of life for many patients.

    5. How long does it take to see results from chiropractic care for degenerative disc disease?

    Results vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition. Some patients may experience relief after just a few sessions, while others may need more time to achieve relief.

    In a Nutshell

    If you’re suffering from degenerative disc disease, a chiropractor can help alleviate your symptoms and improve your quality of life. 

    Chiropractors can relieve pain, improve mobility, and promote overall spinal health by utilizing gentle spinal adjustments, targeted exercises, and other non-invasive techniques. 

    However, it is important to consult with a qualified chiropractor and work closely with them to develop a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and concerns. 

    Can a Chiropractor Help with Degenerative Disc Disease? 

    The answer is yes, they can play a valuable role in managing this condition. 

    If you want to learn more, check out our other blogs at chiropric.

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