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How to lose weight when you have degenerative disc disease (DDD)

If you’ve been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, your physician may have advised you to lose some weight. This is important because the burden of carrying excess body weight can take a significant toll on your already damaged spine.

Like many people with degenerative disc disease, you are probably inclined to overprotect your back, and this may cause you to avoid physical activity. However, while it might seem counterintuitive, exercise can not only help you lose weight — it can also provide more pain relief than bed rest. Over time, inactivity can cause the supporting structures in your back to become weak, stiff and deconditioned, creating a vicious cycle of back pain, inactivity, weight gain and more back pain.

Weight loss guidelines for individuals with back pain

You can work with your physician to develop a safe and sustainable exercise program designed to help you lose weight while taking into account your degenerative disc disease. In the meantime, USA Spine Care can offer some practical guidelines on how to make exercise a part of your daily life:

  • Start slowly — with a gentle, low-impact exercise such as walking, which can help you ease into regular physical activity without overstressing your muscles, joints and spinal discs.
  • Try swimming or pool therapy — which you may find to be more comfortable than exercising on land because the water will counteract the force of gravity, support your body and provide gentle but effective friction against movement.
  • Keep in mind that you may experience some initial discomfort as you start to exercise — while this is to be expected, you should remain cautious of any new or worsening pain that develops during or after physical activity.
  • Stop immediately and notify your physician — if you experience severe pain at any time during your weight-loss program.

While the prospect of exercising with degenerative disc disease may seem daunting, remember that weight loss — even just a few pounds — can be very beneficial, not only for your spine health, but also for your general well-being.

Surgical degenerative disc disease treatment

Some people ultimately elect to address their degenerative disc disease with surgery. The minimally invasive spine surgery performed at USA Spine Care is often clinically appropriate and provides many advantages versus open neck or back surgery.^ If you are interested, contact us to request a free MRI review.* Our team can explain your options and help you determine if you are a candidate.

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