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Five stretches for degenerative joint disease

If you are suffering from degenerative joint disease of the spine, there are several conservative (nonsurgical) treatment options that can help you to find the relief you need to continue your normal daily activities. Stretching exercises will likely be an integral part of the treatment regimen that your physician suggests, along with hot/cold therapy, pain medications, strengthening exercises and more.

Understanding degenerative joint disease

Degenerative joint disease often results when the cartilage lining the facet joints in the spine wears away and the bones start to rub against each other. Normally, the cartilage in the facet joints lets the vertebrae in the spine move back and forth easily, allowing the spine to bend and twist. If the cartilage is worn away from years of use, localized pain, stiffness, inflammation and bone spurs can develop. If a bone spur forms and compresses a nerve, you may experience pain that radiates to your arms or legs, numbness, tingling and muscle weakness.

Stretches for degenerative joint disease of the spine

Degenerative joint disease can lead to stiffness in the spine, so it’s important to stretch your back and neck to maintain a healthy range of motion. Stretches can also help to strengthen the muscles that support the spine, possibly reducing your symptoms. Some popular stretches that are effective for degenerative joint disease treatment include:

  1. Neck and back stretch. While lying flat on your back, pull both of your knees to your chest with your arms and raise your neck off the ground. Hold for a few seconds and repeat 10 times.
  2. Knee to chest. Lie on your back with your knees bent, and alternate pulling one knee to your chest to stretch your hips and lower back. Alternate 10 times.
  3. Hamstring stretch. Keeping your hamstring muscles stretched out can help to relax your spine. This can be accomplished by lying on your back and using a strap or towel wrapped around the bottom of your foot to pull your legs up one at a time while they remain straight. Alternate legs 10 times.
  4. Abdominal stretch. Lie flat on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms on the ground by your side and slowly lift your abdomen off the ground as high as you can. Repeat 15 times.
  5. Cat and cow stretch. In this common yoga exercise you start on your hands and knees with your back level and your head raised. You then lower your head and raise your back slowly, hold for a few seconds, and return to your initial position. Repeat 10 times.

Make sure to stop immediately if you experience pain during any of these stretches, and speak with your physician about other treatment options if the pain continues. If your symptoms persist following conservative treatments, it’s possible that your physician may recommend spine surgery. Contact USA Spine Care to learn about the minimally invasive outpatient surgery we use to treat a wide variety of conditions, including degenerative joint disease of the spine.

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