What causes it?
Degenerative disc disease is a very common reason for back pain and is typically found in people over 35 years of age. Disc degeneration usually starts when an injury or trauma has happened to the disc known as the intervertebral. The bodies healing process does not repair itself in that area because there isn’t enough blood flow. The most common reasons for disc degeneration are a family history, injury, and age. This problem is often found in people who lift heavy things or put a lot of strain on their back for a long period of time. Changes during disc degeneration include increased pain in the nerve fibers and disc desiccation (loss of water in the central disc). Pain from degenerative disc disease may get worse when certain activities are preformed. For example, a patient with lumbar disc degeneration will feel pain when sitting because the lumbar spine has more weight on it when in the seated position. Lumbar degeneration is felt in the legs, feet and buttocks, while cervical disc degeneration is felt in the shoulders, hands and arms. Activities like twisting, bending, and even sneezing and coughing will also increase pain. Pain may be accompanied by numbness in the extremities from nerve irritation. Also, nerves may be pinched or compressed because disc herniations are often associated with disc degenerations. It is important to remember that disc degeneration is not a disease or progressive, but rather a condition that causes back pain because of a damaged disc.
Acupuncture was developed in China thousands of years ago and is used to treat pain by placing thin needles into problem areas. Practitioners believe there is an energy that flows through the body called Chi. When the energy is blocked, pain and physical illness (such as back pain) can occur. To decrease pain, needles are placed in the skin to clear the bodies Chi channels so the energy can move freely. Needles are as thin as a strand of hair. Based on your symptoms, the practitioner will decide where to insert the needles. It’s very likely that you will have multiple needles in your body at one time and sessions generally last 20-40 minutes. Acupuncturists will place needles in precise points of the body called meridians. When acupuncture needles are placed into the body, it releases chemicals in the brain called endorphins and serotonin which stimulate the healing process. Despite any rumors, acupuncture is painless. In fact, many say they experience a euphoric feeling after treatment.