Home » Spine Conditions » Degenerative Disc Disease » British Armed Forces veteran overcoming degenerative disc disease
When Emma Pack left the Royal Artillery, she had chronic back pain, which was attributed to the heavy weight she regularly had to carry for her job. Over time, this strain took a toll on her spinal anatomy and left her with a hearing impairment, nerve damage and degenerative disc disease. The resulting symptoms, combined with the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) she experienced, had a profound impact on her quality of life. Recently, Ms. Pack rediscovered her love of swimming and was chosen to represent the 2017 UK Invictus Games team in Toronto, Canada where wounded, injured or sick forces personnel and veterans battle it out for glory. To learn more about this degenerative condition and why swimming helps ease Ms. Pack’s pain, read the following article.
What is degenerative disc disease?
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that affects the spinal discs that normally cushion and support the spine. These thick pads act like shock absorbers for the neck and back and are relied upon to facilitate regular movement. When a person has degenerative disc disease, it means these discs are deteriorating, causing them to either lose their shape and bulge beyond their normal parameters or to rupture, allowing inner disc material to seep into the spinal canal. Depending on the location and severity of the disc degeneration, this condition can lead to nerve compression in the spinal canal and even irritate the spinal cord itself.
Why does swimming help Ms. Pack manage her pain?
As Ms. Pack illustrates, one of the more common risk factors for developing degenerative disc disease early in life is having a line of work that puts excessive strain on the spine, of which her background in the British Armed Forces certainly qualifies. Typically, when a person is diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, a doctor will recommend a series of exercises that are low-impact in nature and designed to strengthen the neck or back muscles around the problem areas. Swimming, as Ms. Pack can attest, can be a particularly effective treatment option since it is easy on the joints, an excellent form of exercise and therapeutic for tense muscles. Other common treatment options include:
- Stretching techniques, such as those taught in yoga and Pilates
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), pain medications and muscle relaxers
- Heating pads or ice packs
- Limited periods of rest
Degenerative disc disease surgery
In Ms. Pack’s case, the symptoms responded well to swimming, which helped her manage her back pain. Should she decide to pursue surgery to address her degenerative disc disease, there may be several options at her disposal, including the minimally invasive procedures we offer at USA Spine Care. Contact us to learn more about the benefits of our minimally invasive spine surgery.
USA Spine Care is the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery and has helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck or back pain. Our board-certified surgeons+ are able to use a small incision that is muscle sparing to provide patients with lasting relief from chronic spine conditions like degenerative disc disease.
Reach out to our dedicated team today to find out if you are a potential candidate for one of our outpatient degenerative disc disease procedures. We can set up a free review of your MRI or CT scan* to determine if our procedures would be effective in easing your symptoms and getting you back to the activities you love, like competitive swimming.
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