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Can swimming help treat degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is a common condition in individuals over the age of 50. Often caused by the aging process, this condition occurs when the spinal discs deteriorate, shrinking and becoming more brittle as they lose some of their water content. Eventually, a weak spinal disc can bulge or tear, which may cause pain, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness if it comes in contact with a nearby nerve root. If you have started experiencing these symptoms, you are likely wondering what you can do to alleviate the pain.

Low-impact exercises as a treatment for degenerative disc disease

After diagnosing your degenerative disc disease, your physician will likely recommend low-impact exercise as part of your treatment plan. There are a variety of low-impact exercises that you can choose from, including walking, yoga, Pilates and swimming. Many individuals find that swimming is an effective degenerative disc disease treatment that helps alleviate their pain and other symptoms. The buoyancy from the water helps keep the joints protected, while the resistance of the water still makes it a challenging aerobic exercise.

However, when swimming with a spinal condition, it is especially important to pay attention to your symptoms to prevent unnecessary strain on the spine. For example, certain types of strokes may place more pressure on the spine, so you may find that a backstroke is a better option than a breaststroke. If your symptoms persist or worsen when swimming, you may want to consider a water aerobics class as a gentler alternative. As with any exercise, you should consult with your physician for individualized advice before deciding to swim or do water aerobics.

What if exercise doesn’t help with your back pain?

Although many individuals will find the symptom relief they need through exercise and other conservative treatment options for degenerative disc disease, some individuals with more advanced or severe symptoms may need to consider surgery. If your symptoms persist or worsen after months of exploring conservative options, you may be a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery at USA Spine Care. We offer a free MRI review* to help determine if one of our outpatient procedures is right for you.

For more information on the minimally invasive treatment options we offer for individuals with degenerative disc disease and other spinal conditions, contact USA Spine Care today.

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