Things to Avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease: Check!

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If you have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease (DDD), you know it can cause severe back pain and greatly impact your quality of life. As we age, the discs in our spine start to break down, leading to pain and stiffness.

While there are treatments available, the hard truth is that DDD is a progressive condition without a cure. The good news is that while we can’t stop DDD, we can slow its progression. Monitoring your activities and making smart lifestyle choices can go a long way toward protecting your back health.

In this article, we will discuss the top things to avoid with degenerative disc disease. We will provide tips on how to reduce pain and discomfort while maintaining an active lifestyle.

Living well with DDD is all about finding a balance between rest and activity to avoid overtaxing your compromised discs. With some thoughtful adjustments, you can minimize DDD flare-ups.

What Are The Causes Of Degenerative Disk Disease?

Causes Of Disk Disease

What actually causes our spinal discs to wear out over time? As we advance in age, the gel-like centers of discs lose moisture and flexibility. The rubbery outer bands become brittle.

These changes thin the discs, making them less effective as cushions, leading to pain and discomfort. Apart from age-related changes, genetics, and lifestyle also play a role in this.

Poor posture, improper lifting, smoking, and carrying excess weight also hasten disc degeneration. Understanding what accelerates DDD can help you make better daily choices.

Things to Avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease

✅Repeated Bending, Lifting, and Twisting

Protecting your discs should be a top priority when you have DDD. The main things to avoid are movements that squeeze or twist discs. Bending to lift items, even light ones, can compress discs further.

Straighten legs to lift using thigh muscles. Avoid reaching overhead or twisting. Consider using a gripper tool to pick things up off the floor. Save your spine by changing your movement patterns.

✅ Whole Body Vibration

Vibrations from vehicles and equipment are linked to the early onset of spinal conditions. Driving over uneven roads, traveling by bus or ATV, operating heavy machinery, and even riding a lawn mower can jolt discs. Take stretch breaks and consider adding cushioned seats, suspensions, and ergonomic handles to reduce vibration exposure.

✅ Poor Posture Habits

Slouching, hunching over, standing too long - these common posture mistakes overload sore discs. Make corrections like sitting with a lumbar pillow, using commute time for posture checks, placing monitors at eye level, and resting one foot on a stool when standing. Building core strength also reduces poor posture strain on your back.

✅ High-Impact Exercise

While staying active helps retain muscle tone and joint flexibility, an exercise that jars your spine can accelerate disc damage. Skip the high-impact stuff like running, jumping, competitive sports, and heavy-weight training if you have DDD. Talk to your doctor about safe ways to continue exercising without further compressing discs.

✅ Smoking Tobacco

Many studies confirm that tobacco use advances spinal disc degeneration. Smoking impairs blood flow, slowing nutrient and oxygen delivery to the discs.

Coughing from smoking also raises spinal pressure. Quitting is an important step to ease existing back pain and prevent more disc damage. Your doctor can suggest smoking cessation aids and programs to help you stop.

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms

As DDD progresses, several symptoms can occur:

  • Lower back pain that may radiate down the leg
  • Numbness/tingling in legs, feet or buttocks
  • Muscle spasms in the back, buttocks, or thighs
  • Stiffness and decreased range of motion
  • Pain after sitting or standing for long periods of time

The location of symptoms depends on which discs are affected. Pain tends to increase during activity but improves with rest. Getting an accurate DDD diagnosis is key to halting its impact on your daily life.

Degenerative Disc Disease Treatments

While DDD itself cannot be reversed, many effective treatments help manage painful symptoms. These include:

  • Medications: Over-the-counter pain relievers, along with muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatory drugs, can temporarily ease discomfort.
  • Physical Therapy: Specific exercises can improve core and back muscle strength to better support discs.
  • Steroid Injections: Epidural steroid injections deliver anti-inflammatory medication directly into spinal areas to relieve nerve irritation.
  • Surgery: For serious cases unresponsive to conservative treatment, procedures like spinal fusion or disc replacement may be considered.

Exploring all treatment options gives you the best chance of finding lasting relief from DDD pain.

Degenerative Disc Disease Therapies

Beyond traditional treatments, many holistic therapies can offer additional ways to manage DDD, such as:

  • Acupuncture: Fine needles placed at strategic points along the back and legs stimulate natural pain relief.
  • Massage: Various soft tissue techniques relax tight muscles, putting less mechanical strain on sore discs.
  • Spinal Decompression: Computerized equipment gently stretches the spine to take pressure off compressed nerves and discs.
  • Chiropractic: Spinal adjustments and mobilizations can improve joint mobility and reduce nerve irritation.
  • Yoga/Tai Chi: Gentle stretching balanced with muscle strengthening helps stabilize sensitive areas of the spine.

Balancing traditional medical care with natural therapies is an effective approach for controlling DDD.

How Did I Cure My Degenerative Disc Disease?

Living with chronic back pain from DDD, I desperately searched for anything that would help me feel normal again. After years of trying different treatments with limited success, I created my own pain relief plan using various therapies. Here is what ultimately worked for me:

I committed to losing 30 pounds to reduce the mechanical strain on my lumbar discs by improving my diet and doing non-jarring exercises like walking and swimming. I worked on my posture and learned how to lift properly to avoid disc re-injury. Quitting smoking was a painful process.

But with the support of my friends and family, I finally said goodbye to one of my worst addictions. Committing my time and effort to physical therapy and chiropractic treatments was a challenge, but over time, I began to see significant changes in my flexibility and movement. I also use a TENS unit at home to interrupt chronic pain signals.

The combination of the aforementioned treatments along with smart lifestyle changes gave me back my active life. I went from considering spine surgery to living nearly pain-free. My degenerative disc disease is still there, but it no longer controls my daily activities.

Conclusion

Living with degenerative disc disease poses many challenges and lifestyle adjustments. While DDD itself cannot be reversed or cured, great progress has been made in slowing its advancement. With some activity modifications, non-surgical treatment combinations, and healthy lifestyle choices, most people achieve significant pain relief and improved function. Patience through the diagnosis and treatment process leads to better days ahead.

The future looks even brighter in the battle against DDD. Stem cell therapy shows early promise to potentially regenerate deteriorated discs. Wearable posture devices are being developed to monitor and train better spine mechanics. There are even 3D printable titanium disc implants coming soon.

No one is totally immune from degenerative processes as we age. However, by avoiding DDD risk factors and responding promptly to early symptoms, you can delay, minimize, and manage its impacts. Partnering with an experienced medical team allows you to create a personalized plan to live well on your terms, regardless of spinal conditions.

Are you ready to gain back control and reclaim your active lifestyle? Let me know your progress in the comment section below.

Reference

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Dr. David G Kiely is a distinguished Medical Reviewer and former General Medicine Consultant with a wealth of experience in the field. Dr. Kiely's notable career as a General Medicine Consultant highlights his significant contributions to the medical field.

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