When back specialists talk about degenerative disc disease, they’re really describing a combination of back problems that begin with disc damage--and go on to affect all parts of the back and spine. DDD specifically refers to degeneration of the intervertebral discs, which occurs as a natural part of the aging process. As you grow into your 30s and 40s, although it can occur earlier, you may notice back pain that’s growing more frequent and/or severe.
What happens inside the body when you have DDD?
As DDD progresses, the outer layers of your spinal discs slowly wear down. Eventually, the nucleus and the inner fluid within the discs begin to penetrate and bulge through weakened areas in the tough outer disc surface (the annulus). This causes the disc to flatten and narrow, like a cushion losing air, leaving less space for nerves to pass unaffected and providing less shock absorption between your spinal bones.
How to heal degenerative discs naturally
The initial goal of treatment is to make you comfortable as quickly as possible, by getting pain to a manageable level. This is often done with NSAIDs, other over the counter medicines and the application of heat and ice. You may need to rest for a short time after a pain flare-up, but remaining immobile long term won’t help your condition.
If you’re experiencing back pain:
- Get to the root of the problem. See a back specialist for proper diagnosis. You may need x-rays or other imaging tests to identify the true source of your back pain.
- Follow a medically supervised program to get back to normal activity in a timely manner. This may include in-office therapy and exercise as well as a home program.
- Learn about how your back works and what you should do to prevent further injury. Learn proper lifting techniques and body mechanics. Learn proper posture and sleeping positions from your back specialist and physical therapist.
- Self-monitor to curb activities that are pain triggers. Use your mind before you use your back--don’t try to lift heavy or awkward loads on your own, even at work.
- Adjust your work habits and environment. Get a supportive right-sized office chair and/or lumbar pillow for your car seat. Align your desk, computer or workspace to keep your spine and body proper position.
- Vary your activity and break up long periods of sitting with short walks—or stand and stretch. Don’t stand for long periods without a break to walk or sit.
- Get natural Functional Disc Rehydration™ treatment. This treatment method uses gentle traction and other techniques to allow discs to rehydrate, absorb needed nutrients from the body and regenerate.
- Participate in pool therapy and other treatments to unload spinal pressure. Water decreases gravity’s effects on your spine and entire body.
- Include weight bearing exercise and stretching in your routine to help prevent the loss of critical bone mass to keep the spine healthy. Stretching reduces the tendency to muscle spasms.
- Get aerobic exercise for cardiovascular health and endorphin release. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain reducers.
- Receive and practice balance and core spinal stability training. Improving muscle strength and balance reduces back strain and decreases risk of falling and other injury long term.
- Get proper physical therapy as needed, including massage, ultrasound and/or electric stimulation. Continue strengthening and flexibility exercises and treatment to reduce further degeneration.
For effective, natural back pain treatment, contact the back specialists at Illinois Back Institute. We offer personalized treatment plans, including innovative Functional Disc Rehydration™, proven to decrease or eliminate pain. Schedule a free consultation today.