Degenerative Disc Disease

Discs are soft cushions between the vertebral bones of the spine. The disc has a gel in the center. With aging the disc becomes flatter and less cushiony. If a disc becomes too weak, its cover may tear, the inside part of the disc may push through the tear, herniate, and press on the nerve beside it. Herniated discs are most common in the lumbar or cervical spine, occurring in people in their 30s and 40s. When a disc presses on a lumbar or cervical nerve it can cause pain in the back and the legs, or the arms. The extremities may become numb or tingly. This usually gets worse with activity and better with rest. Coughing, sitting, driving, and bending forward or neck constriction may make the pain worse.


Standard medical treatments:

NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory drugs)


Pain medicine


Exercises to strengthen the back and stomach or neck muscles

Steroid injections

Physical therapy



Supportive and alternative treatments:

Nutritional –

Vitamin B – for nerve repair

Magnesium – muscle relaxant

Bromelain – enzymatic anti-inflammatory

Glucosamine sulfate – well researched anti-inflammatory

Serrapeptase – enzymatic anti-inflammatory and dissolves scar tissue

Homeopathy –

Traumeel – combination remedy for inflammation and would healing

Hypericum – for nerve pain

Zeel – combination remedy for arthritic joint pain

Symphytum – for bone and periosteum healing



Massage therapy

Rolfing – deep tissue massage



Inverse gravity device

Inversion therapy involves hanging upside down or at an inverted angle.  Many devices have boots that fit your feet to allow you to hang against the force of gravity. inversion therapy is particularly beneficial for the spine in that it relieves pressure on the discs and nerve roots; this allows discs to recover lost moisture and to return to their original shape, decreasing the pressure they can exert on nerves. For someone about to begin a program of inversion therapy: Invert only 15 to 20 degrees at first, and stay inverted only about one minute to start. By spending a few minutes inverted each day, or two or three times a day, results are noticeable within a week. Always consult a medical or chiropractic physician before starting an inversion program, as there are certain conditions in which this would be contraindicated.


Degenerative Disc Disease and Cannabis


Cannabis is especially helpful for neuropathic pain, such as that caused by the pressure of a disc upon a nerve, as well as pain and inflammation. It can provide relief from the pain itself, often reduce the amount of opiate medication used, as it has a synergistic effect with pain medications, and it can help with the side effects of other medications, such as nausea, dizziness or gastrointestinal upset. It can be used internally and/or topically, applied directly to the affected area, to provide relief without psychoactive effects.

In a 2005 study of the therapeutic role of cannabis for back pain due to degenerated discs done in the UK, it was found that “64.7%of the patients stated the symptoms of their illness to have‘much improved’ after cannabis ingestion, 29.4%stated to have ‘slightly improved’. 76.4% statedto be ‘very satisfied’ with their therapeutic useof cannabis.”