Degenerative disc disease is a lifelong condition that typically affects adults over the age of 50. Once a disc begins to degenerate; the process cannot be reversed. Therefore, after receiving a diagnosis, a patient must learn to live with the associated back pain and discomfort experienced. Some people are surprised to learn that there are many ways to do so without resorting to surgery. To learn about the nonsurgical methods that can provide you with relief, read the following article.
Lifestyle changes can make a big difference
Although degenerative disc disease won’t completely go away on its own, many patients find symptoms respond favorably to simple lifestyle changes, such as:
- Following a healthy diet. Consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, fish and healthy fats can provide a host of health 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.
Additionally, all patients are encouraged to avoid any form of tobacco use and limit alcohol consumption.
What about degenerative disc disease surgery?
While surgery can be helpful for addressing the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, it is usually considered only as a last resort to treat severe or worsening pain. Whether or not surgery is on the horizon, it’s important for a patient to discuss treatment options with a physician. To achieve maximum benefits, it’s often necessary to incorporate a variety of treatments into a long-term plan. A physician can provide ongoing monitoring, answer questions and suggest treatment modifications if necessary.
In the event that several weeks or months of physician-prescribed conservative therapy have not provided adequate relief from degenerative disc disease, USA Spine Care offers minimally invasive procedures that are safer and effective alternatives to traditional open spine surgery.^ Our procedures have helped thousands of patients find relief from their chronic neck or back pain. Contact us to learn more about the advantages of our minimally invasive outpatient procedures.
By using a small incision, that does not unnecessarily disrupt the muscles or ligaments surrounding the spine, the board-certified surgeons+ at USA Spine Care are able to remove the portion of the disc that is causing nerve compression, thereby relieving the symptoms associated with this condition. To find out if you are a potential candidate for our degenerative disc disease surgery, reach out to our dedicated team today and ask for a free MRI review.*