Ayurvedic Medicine & DDD

Spine diagnostic human spinal system concept as medical health care anatomy symbol with the skeletal bone structure and  intervertebral discs closeup with copy space.

Ayurvedic Medicine, What Is It?

Ayurvedic Medicine was developed more than 3,000 years ago in India and is a holistic healing art as it is based on the belief that health and wellness depend on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit.

How Can It Help With Muscle and Joint Pain?

When it comes to body pain, specifically joint and muscle pain, Ayurvedic medicine may help with pain management for joints and muscles.

With Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for example, a double-blind, random controlled study 2011 published study in the Journal of Clinical Rheumatology determined that an Ayurvedic herbal compound was just as effective at treating RA symptoms as Trexall (methotrexate), a powerful anti- rheumatoid and cancer treatment drug.

Osteoarthritis ( wear and tear arthritis) is another common disease impacting millions of people around the world. A common Ayurvedic treatment, frankincense, a dried resin derived from the Boswellia tree, has been used to help relieve the pain by reducing the inflammatory process. According to NCCIH (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).osteoarthritis patients had significant decreases in pain after using a frankincense remedy.

A compound used often in Ayurvedic medicine is Tumeric, a spice derived from the turmeric plant (Curcuma longa), which contains beta-carotene, calcium, flavonoids, iron, niacin, potassium, zinc and other nutrients. And in addition to its potential effectiveness in treating peptic ulcers and some forms of cancer, turmeric also has proven anti-inflammatory properties.

Is It Safe?

Ayurvedic medicine has been used by humans for thousands of years and is still practiced by more than 90% of people in India today, although in western medicine it is still considered an alternative form of healthcare practice.

A 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that almost 21 percent of Ayurvedic medicines purchased over the Internet contained detectable levels of lead, mercury or arsenic; however, it was also pointed out by the researchers that no widespread epidemic of poisoning has been reported to date,  thereby providing a statistically safe solid track record.

Women who are pregnant or nursing, or people who are thinking of using Ayurvedic therapy to treat a child, should be especially sure to consult their health care provider. There has been growing concern over contamination with toxins such as lead, mercury and arsenic in many Ayurvedic herbal remedies. Be sure to make certain the source is pure when utilizing herbal Ayurvedic medicine.

DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE

What Is It?

Degenerative Disc Disease (aka DDD) is a breakdown of the intervertebral disc between the vertebra of the spine. It is thought to be partly a result of genetics, and partly due to wear and tear. This will usually result in decreased disc height and roughening of the edges of the vertebral spine possibly causing joint irritation and pain as well as possible nerve irritation which can also lead to pain. This pain and swelling can lead to limited joint motion which can then lead to decreased muscle performance and ultimately movement problems.

What Causes It?

Typical causes usually are due to wear and tear over time. People usually have accumulated micro-trauma over a period of time which leads to the discs being stressed beyond their capacity to tolerate the compressive load.  Aging leads to decreased hydration of the discs which makes them more brittle and less resilient, thereby leading to degeneration.  Just like you can develop arthritis and degeneration of the knee, you can have this of the spinal discs.

What Can You Do?

Maintaining range of motion of the vertebrae and their discs can help to improve blood circulation to the area as well as hydration of the material in-between the disc, which is a viscous gel like material. There is no real blood supply to the inside of the disc, so it relies on normal movement to pump fluids and nutrients in and out, like a sponge.

Stretching exercises can be helpful in preventing the negative effects of DDD and  promote the range of motion of the vertebral segments, as mentioned above, as well as maintaining adequate muscle activation around the spinal column also known as spinal stabilization exercises.

What Are Professional Treatment Options?

When achieving Range of Motion is not possible on your own or when you are not sure of what specialized exercises are safe to perform, you can consult with a Licensed Healthcare provider that specializes in the management of non-invasive, conservative spine care such as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Chiropractor or Osteopathic Physician.  which All three of these disciplines have formal training in hands on spine care techniques to maximize the health and function of the spine.

Professional procedures to assist in management DDD symptoms can include:

  • Manual therapy (Joint mobilization / manipulation)
  • Cold laser (low level laser)
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Postural awareness and control training
  • Therapeutic / corrective exercise
  • Ergonomic training
  • Fascial manipulation/Release
  • Adhesion (scar) tissue management with stainless steel instrument known as Instrument Assist Soft Tissue Mobilization (IASTM)

What Can You Expect?

If special attention is made to a diagnosed DDD presentation, you can effectively manage the effects of this condition with conservative management in most cases.

If the pain is severe and unrelenting or if you begin to lose control of your bladder and bowel functions, this can be a medical emergency and you must seek emergency care right away as you may have compromise to the spinal cord or spinal nerves.

Aside from the medical emergencies mentioned above, it is possible to live a normal and healthy life even with advanced stages of DDD. In fact, studies have shown that up to 40% of people who have DDD have no pain at all!

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