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How does physical therapy help degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition involving the breakdown of the spinal discs due to the natural aging process. In the spinal column, the vertebrae are separated and cushioned by discs consisting of a tough fibrous outer layer and a softer inner layer. As part of the natural aging process these discs can dry out, making them lose elasticity and height.

Symptoms of degenerative disc disease such as pain, tingling and numbness can occur if displaced disc material causes nerve compression. These symptoms can range from a mild inconvenience to a debilitating drain on your quality of life. A very common type of degenerative disc disease treatment is physical therapy, which involves a range of both active and passive movements performed in partnership with a licensed physical therapist. If you’ve been diagnosed with DDD and are wondering if this form of treatment is right for you, we hope the following information can help you work more closely with your doctor to develop an effective treatment plan.

Benefits of physical therapy for DDD

Because the discs withstand so much stress from supporting the upper body, one of the primary goals of physical therapy for degenerative disc disease is to reduce the pressure being placed on them. This is accomplished by specific movements that are designed to do the following:

  • Strengthen supporting muscles
  • Increase range of motion
  • Improve posture

Treatments a patient can expect to encounter in a physical therapy session include passive measures, such as deep tissue massage and guided stretches, as well as active movements designed to strengthen core and supporting muscles.

Other degenerative disc disease treatment options

Physical therapy should be part of a broader degenerative disc disease treatment plan that can involve at-home exercise, chiropractic care, periods of rest, medication and lifestyle changes like improved nutrition and quitting smoking, if needed. Surgery can start to become an option if weeks or months go by without an improvement in symptoms, or if they begin to worsen.

As a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures,^ USA Spine Care provides minimally invasive spine surgery that can be performed on an outpatient basis. By using muscle-sparing techniques, our highly skilled surgeons can access the spine with a less than 1-inch incision, which leads to many benefits for our patients. To learn more, contact our dedicated team today.

We’re happy to provide a free MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.

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