A guide to osteopathic manipulative treatment for degenerative disc disease

Practitioners of osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT) believe diseases can be detected through changes in the surface of the human body and these diseases could be treated by manual manipulation. Osteopathic physicians believe OMT can be used to treat a variety of illnesses and injuries, and they use their hands to move, stretch and apply pressure to the muscles and joints of the body, with the dual purpose of diagnosing and treating a range of medical diseases. OMT practitioners also believe that the treatment can relieve pain, as well as increase a person’s range of motion and encourage healing.

In some cases OMT may be appropriate to treat chronic neck or back pain caused by the weakening of the spinal column, including a condition known as degenerative disc disease. The OMT practitioner aims to use hands-on care to restore the spine to its normal function. There are several techniques that the practitioner might use to achieve the desired results, with one common method being to apply gentle manual pressure to affected areas of the spine.

Degenerative disc disease explained

Degenerative disc disease can affect the spine in several ways. Located between our spine’s vertebrae are discs that consist of a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus that surrounds a softer gelatinous interior called the nucleus pulposus. Together, discs absorb shock for the spinal column, helping us withstand the daily stresses we place on our necks and backs. However, as we age, the cushioning discs lose their fluid content and elasticity, making them weak and susceptible to injury or disease. If the annulus fibrosus tears or ruptures, the nucleus can extrude into the area surrounding the disc. The extruded material may pinch nerves, placing pressure upon them and consequently causing neck or back pain along with numbness, tingling and muscle weakness in the limbs. The symptoms of degenerative disc disease can also be caused due to the spinal discs losing shape or flattening.

How osteopathic manipulative treatment can help

With these issues OMT may be beneficial as a pain management tool and to improve range of motion and flexibility. Manipulation treatments include:

  • Neuromuscular therapy
  • Visceral manipulation
  • Soft tissue techniques
  • Balanced ligamentous tension
  • Joint mobilization

If you are experiencing chronic neck or back pain, consult with your doctor. He or she can diagnose the cause of your discomfort and create a conservative treatment plan, which could potentially include OMT. You may be referred to an osteopathic physician who can help you explore this form of treatment.

When to consider spine surgery

If OMT and other conservative treatments have been fully exhausted after weeks and months and done little to ease your neck or back pain, your doctor may recommend surgery. If so, consider minimally invasive spine surgery from Laser Spine Institute. We offer minimally invasive decompression and stabilization procedures that can treat a range of spine conditions, including degenerative disc disease. Contact us today to learn more about our outpatient procedures that are a safer and effective alternative to traditional open spine surgery.^

We are happy to offer a no-cost MRI review* so you can find out if you are a potential candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at Laser Spine Institute.