Degenerative disc disease is technically not a disease at all, but a way to describe changes in the spinal discs that separate the vertebrae in the spine. Degenerative disc disease should be diagnosed and treated by a medical doctor, but some people turn to homeopathic remedies to help relieve their symptoms. Homeopathy is a complementary therapy, and not a replacement for medical treatment. Consult your physician about the possibility of using homeopathic treatment to help relieve symptoms from degenerative disc disease.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle of "like cures like." In an attempt to stimulate your immune system, your homeopath will prescribe infinitesimal amounts of substances that, in larger doses, would trigger symptoms in a healthy person. In order to relieve the pain and reduce the inflammation of osteoarthritis caused by degenerative disc disease, your homeopath may prescribe a tiny quantity of rhus toxicodendron, made from poison ivy. In a larger amount, this toxic plant would cause not only severe itching but pain, swelling and burning; conversely, in the tiny amount prescribed in homeopathic medicine, the remedy is intended to reduce pain. Your homeopath may also recommend arnica montana--made from a yellow, daisy-like flower--which has a long history of use as a homeopathic treatment for inflammation and pain following injuries and surgery. According to homeopathic practitioner Asa Hershoff, arnica should be considered first in all cases of physical injury (see Resources). Your homeopath may also advise the use of kali phosphoricum, also known as potassium phosphate. According to the Truestar Health website, this tissue salt can hinder tissue decay (see Resources). In addition, since degenerative disc disease involves nerves being put under pressure by bulging discs, your homeopath may also treat your degenerative disc disease symptoms with hypericum, made from St. John's wort and used homeopathically for shooting nerve pain and injuries where there is nerve involvement. Finally, he may use calcaria fluorica, or calcium fluoride, to rectify any shortage of calcium in the bones. In addition to prescribing remedies, he may advise dietary changes, including cutting out coffee and alcohol.
Although degenerative disc disease can take place anywhere along the spine, it is more common in the lumbar region, or lower back, and cervical region, or neck. Degenerative disc disease can lead to osteoarthritis--a breakdown of the cartilage that cushions the joints--as well as herniated discs, a condition in which the spinal discs bulge out or break open. It can also cause spinal stenosis, or narrowing of the spinal canal that holds the spinal cord. The result of these changes is pressure on spinal cord and nerves, causing pain and possible problems with nerve function. Symptoms include pain that worsens with prolonged sitting, standing or lifting. Degenerative disc disease is due to aging, but is more common in smokers, people who habitually lift heavy objects and people who are obese.
Tips and Precautions
Don't stop or reduce your dosage of prescription medications unless instructed by your doctor. Because of the diluted quality of homeopathic remedies, there are no specific precautions for their use. If your homeopath prescribes medicine in pill or tablet form, avoid touching them with your hands; this can contaminate the substance. Use a small spoon to put pills in your mouth; for liquid solutions, use an eyedropper.