Degenerative disc disease or DDD is one of the leading causes of back pain. You should know that degenerative disc disease isn’t exactly a disease, but is a term used to describe common conditions often treated by pain management specialists.
With the aging process or a major injury to the back, the spinal discs are weakened and this may result in sections of the vertebrae rubbing together and pressing on nerves, in turn making them pinched.
In simple terms, degenerative disc disease is a term used to describe the symptoms of pain and possibly radiating numbness or weakness resulting from a degenerated disc in the spine.
While a professional may treat the patient using medication or non-drug treatments, there are steps you can take as an individual suffering from DDD to help provide some relief.
Maintain an active lifestyle
Even with professional help, it is not likely that the pain will go away completely but once it is under control, one of most important things you can do is to remain active.
Exercises are great as a way to heal the back, and serve as a means to preserve what functionality remains. Exercise can help keep the back and discs hydrated and pliable by increasing the flow of oxygen, blood and nutrients to those areas. Endorphins, a natural stress reducer and pain reliever, are also released when one exercises, leading to an improvement of one’s sense of well-being.
Stretching is an important part of the exercise routine of anyone suffering from degenerative disc disease. Hamstring stretching and more targeted stretching like piriformis stretches can be helpful, depending on the patient’s diagnosis.
In addition to stretching first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, alternating low impact exercises such as walking or biking with 30 minutes of strengthening exercises every other day can help maintain mobility and flexibility. Even those dealing with significant amounts of pain can exercise in mild doses. It is best to work with a trainer who has experience with back pain.
Reduce stress on lower back
Degenerated discs would normally be more painful when an individual sits in a manner in which he or she is applying more pressure on the lower back.
Dr Buyanov advises the use of low back support and stresses the importance of maintaining good posture. Those who would normally remain in one position should change position as often as possible to increase blood flow and relieve stress.
It will be enough to simply stand and walk ten paces every 20 to 30 minutes. Those suffering from DDD must learn to lift heavy objects in the correct way and sleep on a supportive and comfortable mattress.
Make nutritional changes
A healthy diet goes a long way in regulating the pain in the lower back that comes with degenerative disc disease. Patient should particularly focus on oxygenation and hydration which can be achieved by making small changes.
For instance, one can achieve better hydration by sipping water throughout the day and eliminating caffeinated drinks. It also helps to reduce alcohol intake as alcohol is a depressant in addition to reducing hydration. It may also create a domino effect that would affect everything else from the motivation to exercise to the quality of sleep.
Also, any nicotine intake such as smoking should cease because it prevents proper oxygen flow to the spinal discs.
Patients should always check with a doctor or pain management expert before embarking on any self-help programs to take care of pain from degenerative disc disease.