Living With Degenerative Disc Disease

Despite the name, degenerative disc disease isn’t actually a disease. It’s a condition characterized by back pain from damaged discs. When discs dry out (which occurs during the natural aging process), sustain normal wear and tear, or are damaged from an injury, the resulting pain can impact your life.

Here at Spine Group Beverly Hills, Dr. John Regan is an expert when it comes to treating back pain. If conservative treatments aren’t providing the relief you need, Dr. Regan may suggest a spinal fusion so you can get back to your life sans pain.

If you’re newly diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, you might wonder how you’ll be able to cope. In this article, we’ll explore what degenerative disc disease is as well as tips for living with the condition.

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease is an age-related condition characterized by pain. Pain occurs when the gel-like discs (think: shock absorbers in your spine) break down. Without the cushion of the disc, you might experience:

Note: Pain can be nagging or severe. If your disc damage affects your nerves, you might feel tingling in your arms or legs, according to the experts at WebMD.

Living with degenerative disc disease

Because the pain of degenerative disc disease can be worse when sitting, this can make working at a desk difficult and uncomfortable. It can also make car trips or simply sitting at home reading unpleasant.

Here are six options to make living with degenerative disc disease easier:

  1. Find the best position e.g. recline while watching TV at night instead of sitting
  2. Consider over-the-counter medications to fight inflammation or prescription medications for pain
  3. Consider physical therapy to strengthen your neck and back muscles (which help to support your spine)
  4. Practice back-friendly postures including lifting safely and using good posture when sitting, standing, and walking
  5. Avoid smoking since cigarette smoking can intensify chronic pain, according to the experts at Cleveland Clinic
  6. Include exercise in your daily plan

It might seem counterintuitive to exercise if your back hurts, but gentle exercise can help keep your spine healthy, and it can help reduce pain. Ideas for gentle exercise include walking, water aerobics, and yoga. Studies show that stretching and yoga in particular can reduce disc pain in multiple areas of the spine, including the cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) areas.

What if conservative options don’t work?

Despite your best efforts, conservative treatments might not always be enough to reduce your pain. During a spinal fusion, rods, or screws help to stabilize your spine, which prevents the damaged discs from causing pain. Dr. Regan performs this as a minimally-invasive procedure, which means there will be smaller incisions and a quicker recovery period.

Don’t let degenerative disc disease keep you from living life on your terms. Call our office to schedule an appointment at our Beverly Hills or Santa Monica, California location today.

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