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Alternative Treatments for Degenerative Disc Disease

Herbal Remedies:

Before trying any herbal remedies, do your research and talk to your doctor. There may be side effects that you're unaware of—an herbal remedy could interfere with a prescribed medicine you're taking, for example. Some herbal remedies you may want to consider for degenerative disc disease are:

  • Devil's Claw: Devil's claw comes from southern Africa, where it has been used for centuries to treat fever, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems. It works as an anti-inflammatory. Today, it's used for conditions that cause inflammation and pain, like degenerative disc disease. You can take it in a capsule.
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  • SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine): It's been suggested that SAMe is useful for the age-related "wear and tear" spinal conditions, such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease. As a bonus, there have been several studies that show it's also good for treating depression. (People suffering from chronic pain can become depressed because of how the pain changes their lives. Their chronic condition can also affect their body's nervous system chemistry, leading to a chemical imbalance and perhaps depression.)

  • White Willow Bark: The white willow led to the development of aspirin in Europe. If you don't want to take the synthetic version (aspirin can irritate the stomach), use white willow bark. It's for conditions that cause pain or inflammation, like degenerative disc disease. It also provides relief for acute back pain.


Acupuncture: Developed in China, acupuncture uses very fine needles—and no medication—to treat your pain. Practitioners believe that you have an energy force called your Chi (it can also be spelled Qi, but both forms are pronounced "chee"). When this force is blocked, you can develop physical illness, such as back pain. Therefore, you need to free up your body's Chi channels, which practitioners call your meridians. Acupuncture works to restore a healthy, energetic flow of Chi.

Acupuncture needles are almost as thin as strands of hair. Based on your symptoms and exact diagnosis, a practitioner will insert the needles; you'll most likely have multiple needles inserted during one session. The practitioner will target precise points in your body's meridians, and the needles will be left in for 20-40 minutes. It's been suggested that acupuncture needles cause your body to release certain neurochemicals, such as endorphins or serotonin, and they help in the healing process.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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