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Driving... What to do???

Hello everybody,

I have just been diagnosed with DDD. I know this disease can be tough because there are risks of recidive... For now, Prednisone is helpful but I know it takes time to recover...
My concern is that I commute for 2x45min everyday, and I know that driving is very bad for this condition...
Any experience, advice?
Will this commute prevent me to recover ? and/or avoid any recidive?



  • It's just a question of how fast, any what other problems it creates. You can't "cure" it. Only treat it's problems.

    I hate driving in any traffic, even with big mirrors, lots of glass and blind spot indicator alerts. Worst is having to back out of a parking space with vehicles on both sides. Your commute will affect your recovery. I can only suggest a muscle relaxant that still leaves you alert enough to drive safely.
    Severe DDD, Severe neural foraminal stenosis at 2 levels, moderate canal stenosis at 2 levels, significantly impaired left shoulder & arm function. Chronic moderate compression fracture at C6.

  • Well, it's a complex problem because even without pain, driving too much is putting pressure on the spine, especially with the bad roads in Chicago... I don't want to diminish my chances of recovery because of work... but will take your advice!

    Thank you!
  • jellyhalljjellyhall Posts: 4,373
    edited 01/13/2013 - 11:30 AM
    I think that there are things you can do to try to help yourself.
    Eat heathily, try to stay at an ideal weight, drink lots of water, walk a mile or few frequently (daily if possible) and exercise to get your core muscles as strong as possible. Don't smoke - more and more they are saying that this will cause damage and degeneration to the discs. Also if you need spinal surgery, it will impede the healing and fusion.

    The driving to get to work can't be helped, but perhaps when you get to your destination, you could take a walk.

    I can't think of anything else to help you at the moment, but that should be a good start :-)
  • Your answer is very helpful...
    I am a healthy person, 5'7", 126 lbs, I drink at least half a gallon of water everyday and I don't smoke! ...I also workout but may be not the right way...So far so good! but one of my issues is that I wear heels all the time so I guess now it's over for me, and I started running this spring, and it seems my spine didn't like it!
    I will definitely start walking everyday... I love walking so that's the perfect therapy for me! Is fast walking good???
    I also plan to start Yoga, Pilates and Swimming regularly.
    Another issue is that I sit almost all day at work on bad chairs...so will try to get one ergonomic chair and also walk a bit every hour...Also, for driving, would a back belt for support help???

    Yes, your answer is a good start!!!! :-)

  • My physiotherapist told me that the absolute best thing I can do for my spine, is to walk.
    I actually find that fast walking is better than slowly ambling along. I asked the first surgeon that I saw why that was. He said it is because when walking fast you engage your muscles much more and so everything is well supported. You can actually concentrate on engaging your muscles as you walk.

    Pilates is also very good, but do let the instructor know of your back problems.
    When sitting, concentrate on good posture. Perhaps make sure that every 10 minutes or so, you think about your posture and every half an hour get up and walk a short distance (or at least stand and move a bit) before sitting again.
    Definately get a suitable chair, and possible some sort of lumbar support.
    I don't know about a back belt for support while you drive. Maybe. I actually have a Spinabac support in the car that helps me.

    Great that you are going to be so proactive to help yourself. It should go a long way to improving things for you. If, like me, you end up having spinal surgery anyway, at least you know that you did everything you could.

    Good luck :-)
  • Lets not forget DDD alone is not considered a high risk as if you read some information on this condition most people have it to some degree and many never have serious issues , Now sure there are some severe cases as when disc goes totaly bad and gap closes in the disc space and compression on the nerve is involved ,

    So unless there is compression issues or leaking disc the DDD on its own can be managed ,
    Long driving or short driving even in chicago bad roads use a pillow if needed to sit on and some good back suport,

    Walking is a no brainer we all have 2 feet so walking is always a good form of exercise , Any exercise to get the core muscles stronger helps hold spine in place and keeps the stress off it,

    So treatment for the DDD is probably the most simple 1 I say this because of your previous post you mention you looking for pt facility in chicago who is a specialist in treating DDD

    DDD is the most comon problem and is not as complex as you would think, Its the most basic issue people have usualy!
    So just about any pt faciliity who can teach pt excercise to get the core muscles stronger keep good posture beter body mechanics and keeping these exercises as part of a lifestyle even outside of the pt facility daiiley can avoid surgery and with some luck live a long happy pain free life,

    So unless your work involves heavy lifting and such i would not over worry about making it worse as long as you started some exercise program and things start to get beter,

    Good luck,
    Flexicore ADR 2004 resulting nerve damage l4l5 Fusion 2006 same level, 2009 hardware removal with lami !
    2012 scs implant ,
  • I use a lumbar support for my driving & passengar seat as well a coccyx foam cushion which I purchased at a Pharmacy. I take along my TENS unit. I allow extra time so I can use it before or after my destination, as well I keep a pain relief topical gel in the glove compartment (with vinyl gloves) as the gel tends to smell and you don't want it on your hands. Always take your pain medication when prescribed (unless it makes you drowsy) if it makes you drowsy ask your Dr. if you can take another OTC pain relief. I personally find ice helps tremendously with my pain & heat tends to trigger it (due to inflammation) but some prefer the heat. If you prefer the heat, one can purchase those pain relief heat patches that last for hours at Walmart or a pharmacy. I purchased a gel pack that you can freeze or heat up from the PT. I freeze it overnight and place it on my back while driving. (30min) really helps!
    Take care.
  • I know that DDD is very common and that 80% of the population is affected... But it doesn't mean that I need to let it go and trust any physician... I am not the type of person who will let this problem make my life miserable so my objective is not only to avoid surgery BUT to avoid any recidive... Furthermore, there is a genetic factor in my story, my brother has this disease and he ended up with a herniated disc and surgery after a couple crises. So, I need to be very careful. Yes, I was worried about the PT because there are lots of bad PTs here but I will make sure to find a good one.
    Thanks for your opinion though. I will try to not over worry now, and the good news is that the pain is gone after a 7-day Prednisone treatment... I am starting PT tomorrow! Thanks
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,859
    As Alex and others were pointing out, Degenerative Disc Disease is probably the most common and most mis-understood spinal condition.

    I'd spend some time reading this Spine-Health article: Degenerative Disc Disease It is a very good reference for someone who has no idea what DDD is and also for those that are familiar with it.

    When it comes to driving, I would'nt even put DDD into the equation. Instead, just look at driving and how it can impact your or anyone's spine and what can you do. There are hundreds of different types of car seats, pillows, lumbar adjustments and more all aimed to making the driver more comfortable. Those things are nice and many times, the simple pillow is best. But nothing can help more than breaking up your drive. I commuted for about 25 years after 4 lumbar and 3 cervical surgeries. My driving distance ranged fro 30 up to 105 miles each way. I would drive no more than
    40 minutes without stopping, getting out, walk some, stretch a bit and wait about 10 minutes before getting into the car.
    Yes, that would add total time to your commute, but it saves you tons in making you more comfortable at the end of the day.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
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