What Does a Diagnosis of Degenerative Disc Disease Mean?

You’ve been feeling twinges, aches and pains. Maybe your lower back hurts when you’re going out for a run, or maybe your neck hurts and you get the occasional twinge in your hand. Whatever spurred you to see your doctor, you’ve had an MRI and been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease. Now you want to know what that means for your lifestyle, your discomfort, and your future.

Degenerative disc disease is the term used to describe changes in the discs of your spine. In some cases these changes cause pain – that’s probably what led to your diagnosis – but in some cases people can go through life without ever knowing that it’s happening to them.

When the discs in your back are healthy, they work as shock absorbers for the bones that make up the column of your spine. As you age, they start to break down. They might dry out or they may crack or wear down as a result of stress and minor injuries. When that happens they may remain in place, in which case there is no resulting pain, but for those who experience discomfort the discs end up slipping out of place or bulging, and when they come into contact with nerves they cause pain.

The bad news is that if you have degenerative disc disease, there’s no going back – you can’t really restore or reverse the process. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to manage your condition, including conservative approaches as well as minimally invasive surgery.

Some things that you can do on your own include:

A Healthy Diet

Not only do nutritious foods support bone and disc health, but eating right and cutting back on fat, sugar, and processed food can help you cut calories and lose extra weight that is putting additional pressure on your spine.

Exercise

There are plenty of exercises that you can do that not only strengthen the core muscles that support your spine, but also add to your flexibility and ease the symptoms you’re experiencing. A quick internet search will provide you with plenty of stretches that are specifically designed to ease back pain, and you can work with a personal trainer to learn the best exercise to help you achieve your goals.

Over-the-counter Pain Relievers

If you are feeling pain or discomfort, there are over-the-counter medications like Aleve and Tylenol that can help. There are also anti-inflammatory medications available via prescription that our lumbar spine specialist in New Jersey can prescribe to help you while you’re trying to rehabilitate your back.

Physical Therapy

There are specific exercises designed to not only build core strength but also expand your range of motion and ease pain. A physical therapist experienced with degenerative disc disease and knowledgeable about your specific diagnosis can provide a personal plan.

Minimally Invasive Surgery

If conservative approaches don’t work, minimally invasive surgery may be the right answer for you.

To learn more about how we can help, contact our office today to set up a consultation.

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