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If you could do it over, what would you have done to prevent DDD?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,322
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:40 AM in Degenerative Disc Disease
If you could do it over, at the first sign of back pain or disc degeneration, what would you have done to prevent DDD?

Right now, I'm thinking a lot about regimens for preventing and possibly reversing early stages of DDD. From what I understand, intervertebral discs are under a continuous cycle of breakdown and regeneration, and it's only when the rate of breakdown exceeds that of regeneration that a net degeneration of the disc occurs.

Alright, so in the first part of my hypothetical regimen to prevent DDD, healthy, nutritious meals and supplementation would be immediately followed by movement of the spine in order to promote fluid and nutrient exchange within the disc.

1. Healthy diet (vague, but you can look up details on this).
2. Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplementation

3. Manual movement of joint in order to promote circulation/fluid exchange near discs (wobble chair, walking, physical therapy, manual hip pumping motions, and anything that can be done safely).
4. Passive, intermittent spinal mobilization (devices like the back2life would be used while reading, relaxing, or working).
5. Hot tubs/Jacuzzi use to externally try increase circulation and fluid exchange near the joint.

This first part is based on the observed phenomenon known as partitioning, which states that after meals, circulation increases disproportionately in areas that tend to store fat. (This explains why bodyfat patterns exist, ei, why some people store a lot of fat on their hips yet have very little fat on their arms.) The concept of partitioning would be used to increase circulation following meals and supplementation in order to promote nutrient flow into the damaged discs.

The second part of the hypothetical method for preventing DDD (or reversing early stage DDD) would involve reducing the breakdown within the disc. This would have to be tailored much more to the individual, but would involve...

1. Correction of musculoskeletal imbalances/poor posture which might be increasing the wear and tear on the joints. (Chiropractic, rolfing, postural training, physical therapy, etc.)
2. Ensuring that all activities are ergonomically correct to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the joints.

Alright, so this is the intense regimen that I am thinking of. Does anyone have any suggestions or additions to this?

Or, if I am missing something, what would you have done to prevent DDD?


  • Also note, that although this seems hypothetical and wishful, the answers to this question might help those who already experience DDD, even those who have already had surgery. For example, if there was a method for preventing disc degeneration, then this method might be applied to prevent degeneration of adjacent segments in those who have fusion and other surgeries. Or for those of you with DDD in some, but not all vertebrae, these methods might maintain those vertebrae which are still healthy.
  • My problems started July 2003. I had a serious "attack", so to speak. I was severely spasmed and could barely walk. I went to the doctor, no x-ray or anything..... I was told it was a spasm, and was prescribed pain meds and muscle relaxers. From that point on, this happened to me every 6 months. And the same protocol was followed, meds.... No x-rays, etc.

    It started happening more often in 2005. Finally, in November 2005, I went to a chiro. He could barely touch me I hurt so bad. But, he did do an x-ray, and was the first to tell me in 3 1/2 years that I had DDD. At that point I did have viable disk left. So he treated me with adjustments, etc, until November 2007, when my disk completely blew. At that point, he told me I was beyond any help he could give me, and he was done seeing me (he was very nice about it :) ). I still will never know if his treatments just prolonged the inevitable collapsing, or were the cause. I'd like to think the latter.

    So I guess, to answer your question, my answer would be that I wish that my condition was diagnosed sooner, and I knew what the problem was. Because before where I could do physical therapy, traction, etc., I can't do ANY of it now without irritating my back. Heck, I can't even shave my own legs or put my own socks on most of the time. :( I am now on Social Security disability.

    I think you are on a great path here. I hope this regimen works for you, and perhaps others. I do have to put it out there though, that no one should follow your advice though without first consulting with a doctor. :)

    Take care,

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  • Thanks for the encouragement!

    You're right, diagnosis a very important initial step! And also correct about the disclaimer. Just to put people at ease, just consider this a brainstorming session.

    Ok, so to add to the initial question, lets assume that soon after your first bout of back pain you it became known that you were in the early stages of DDD...

  • I have DDD and recently recovered fom a herniated disc and facet joint arthropy and now after the disc is healed I have mild DDD throughout my Lumber spine. I had 3 injections of depo-medrol and now I have DDD. I wouldn't recommend that controversial steroid for the back. I also would've been more active walking etc. to keep in shape. It's hereditary though and I also should have said no to smoking. Although it's a natural part of aging it shouldn't be so painful! I'm not able to work but still strengthening my core and still trying to lose more weight which is another strain on the back. I lost 35 lbs and still have 30 more to go. I would also have drank more water so the discs wouldn't have got so dehydrated and lay off the colas. Thanks for posting. Take care. Charry
    DDD of lumbar spine with sciatica to left hip,leg and foot. L4-L5 posterior disc bulge with prominent facets, L5-S1 prominent facets with a posterior osteocartilaginous bar. Mild bilateral foraminal narrowing c-spine c4-c7 RN
  • I would have lost weight, quit smoking, and done physical therapy. I had no idea that this was in store for me. :(
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  • I like the thought of preventing or slowing the DDD process; however. when I asked my NS what I could do to slow the process he advised me to ........"get younger".
  • Thanks guys! You're experience and knowledge is really helpful! Maybe I can eventually compile a big list of things "to do" and things "not to do", and somehow weed through it.

    Keep it coming!
  • hi bigg, i think that your ns is only correct in the case of completely degenerated disks, from what i have read.

    the following case report demonstrated rehydration and increased disk height in partially degenerated disks with glucosamine/chondroitin supplementation and moderate exercise. it's assumed that the disks that did not regenerate were too far gone. if this is correct, disk regeneration might be possible if caught soon enough.


  • By the way, congrats on your weight loss! And my best wishes in losing the final 30!
  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 13,434
    unfortunately, no....
    degenerative disc disease is still probably the most mis-understood of all spinal problems.
    in the simplest terms, ddd is the aging of our spines. almost every person will show some signs of ddd by the time they reach 27. some people will show signs earlier and more severe. that can be brought on by:

    - trauma
    - surgeries
    - genetic conditions

    just think of ddd the same way we understand how our hair starts to turn gray as we age.

    some of the items mentioned in the original post here are really good points in terms of overall good health. but even following every one of them, you are not going to stop ddd.

    some of those actions, ie back2life may even be harmful to some spinal patients.

    most cases of ddd do not need any surgical procedure. an approved set of exercises and the use of over the counter nsaids can help to manage ddd.
    there are very severe cases of ddd that may require surgery.

    before anyone starts on any action plan, always discuss this with your doctor.

    heart of copd patients have a specific set of exercises and diet that is geared for their condition. the same applies to spinal patients.
    since there are so many different problems people can have with their spine, any action plan needs to be understood and reviewed.

    spine-health article:
    degenerative disc disease

    spine-health video:
    ddd video
    Ron DiLauro Veritas-Health Forums Manager
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences 
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