Degenerative disc disease is a difficult condition to live with. However, it does not need to hinder the rest of your life.
Here are three things you can do to control your disc degeneration:
Step One: Stay active to slow the disc degeneration
Once pain is adequately controlled (it will most likely not go away completely) the most important thing patients can do is stay active.
Exercises not only preserve what functionality exists; they are the single best way of healing the back. Exercise increases the flow of blood and oxygen and other nutrients to the back and discs, thereby keeping them hydrated and as pliable as possible. Exercise can also improve one's sense of well-being by promoting the release of endorphins, a natural pain-reliever and stress reducer.
Staying active does not require a lot of innovation, but it does require planning, such as:
Strengthening and Aerobic Conditioning
Alternating 30 minutes of strengthening exercises with low-impact exercise like walking, biking or swimming every other day can maintain flexibility and mobility, as well as control weight. For those who are in too much pain to tolerate much exercise, a gentle approach is best. Water therapy is particularly gentle on the lower back, as the water provides support for the weight of the body.
Doing five minutes of stretches first thing in the morning and the last thing before bed will also significantly increase mobility. Hamstring stretching is almost always important for patients with lower back pain. Additional, more targeted stretching, such as piriformis stretches, may be advisable, depending on the patient’s diagnosis.
Investing in a few hour-long sessions with a physical therapist or certified athletic trainer knowledgeable about low back pain can provide adequate guidance and ideas for back exercises that can be done with and without exercise equipment.