How does degenerative disc disease (DDD) affect daily life?

Some recently diagnosed patients are surprised to learn that the pain and discomfort caused by DDD can be relieved without necessarily resorting to surgery. Although the disease won't go away on its own, symptoms often respond favorably to simple lifestyle changes such as:
 
  • Following a healthy diet: Eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish, and healthy fats can provide many benefits, including losing excess weight. Carrying extra weight can put added pressure on damaged discs and cause the degeneration to worsen.
  • Exercising regularly: A gentle routine of low-impact aerobic, strengthening and flexibility exercises specifically designed to address degenerative disc disease symptoms can be very beneficial. These activities don't need to be complicated - walking is often an excellent choice.
  • Taking medications as needed: Many over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, can provide pain relief while nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce both pain and inflammation. If necessary, a physician can also prescribe stronger medications, such as pain medications, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.
  • Engaging in physical therapy: A trained physical therapist can develop and demonstrate an individualized program designed to improve strength, flexibility, and range of motion. Regular physical therapy sessions can help ensure proper body mechanics, good posture and avoidance of movements and positions that can potentially cause pain.
 
 
*All patients are also encouraged to avoid any form of tobacco and limit alcohol consumption.
 
 
 
dumbbells and sneakers
 
 
 

Sources: 
  • Laser Spine Institute. "Living with Degenerative Disc Disease." Laser Spine Institute, www.laserspineinstitute.com/articles/degenerative_disc_disease/living-with-degenerative-disc-disease/792/.
  • Sellers, J. Talbot. "Living with Degenerative Disc Disease." Spine-Health, www.spine-health.com/conditions/degenerative-disc-disease/living-degenerative-disc-disease.

 

 

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