Degenerative disc disease treatment generally consists of some combination of medications to manage pain or discomfort, physical activity to improve strength and circulation and stretches to improve flexibility and relieve pressure on pinched nerves. The more commonly used stretching and strengthening techniques can be completed at home, including pelvic tilts, bridging exercises and hook-lying march exercises.
Below you’ll find a brief description of these exercises, but always remember to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program for degenerative disc disease treatment. He or she can tell you if these exercises are right for you and recommend the frequency and intensity with which you should complete them.
Exercise 1: Pelvic tilts
Lie on your back, knees bent and with both feet flat on the floor. Place your arms to your sides, parallel to your torso. By tightening the core muscles in your stomach, flatten your back against the ground. Your legs should remain in the same position, while your pelvis should tilt slightly up as if rotating toward the ceiling. Hold this position for 10 seconds and then return to the starting position.
Exercise 2: Bridging exercises
Pelvic lifts are sometimes used in conjunction with bridging exercises as part of degenerative disc disease treatment. Both exercises begin with the back flat on the floor, with the knees bent and feet flat on the floor, and each exercise relies on the strength of the abdominal muscles. Bridging requires you to use your stomach, back and hip muscles to lift your back off the floor slowly to a point that feels comfortable for you. Your knees should remain in the same position so they form a diagonal with your stomach and chest. Hold this position for 10 seconds before returning to the original position.
Exercise 3: Hook-lying exercises
Hook-lying exercises are another popular choice for degenerative disc disease treatment because they strengthen the lower back and abdominal muscles without placing much strain on the spine. Start with your back on the floor, knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Then, begin contracting your abdominal muscles as you lift one leg, still bent at about a 90-degree angle, toward your chest. Start by lifting your leg by a few inches. It can help to visualize pulling your belly button down toward your spine as you maintain this position for 10 seconds. Then slowly place your foot back on the floor and repeat the exercise with the other leg. Over time, you may be able to lift your leg to the point that your thigh is perpendicular with the floor and your calf is parallel with the floor.
In addition to these exercises, your physician may recommend that you participate in regular aerobic exercise, especially activities like swimming, that doesn’t place excessive strain on the spine. Like the exercises above, these types of activities can strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility, potentially reducing the severity of your symptoms.
Other degenerative disc disease treatments
While patients often find relief from a course of conservative treatments, including the above exercises, spine surgery can become an option if weeks and months go by without the improvement in symptoms necessary for a good quality of life. To learn more about how minimally invasive spine surgery offers our patients a shorter recovery time with less risk of complication compared to traditional open neck or back procedures, contact USA Spine Care today.
We’re happy to offer a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient procedures.