4 Things To Avoid With Degenerative Disc Disease: A Guide To Managing Your Symptoms

By Kendra Reed

Updated On

Degenerative disc disease is a common condition that affects the spine, causing pain, discomfort, and reduced mobility. As the spinal discs deteriorate over time, it becomes crucial to manage the condition effectively to maintain a good quality of life. In this blog post, we’ll explore the things you should avoid if you have degenerative disc disease, helping you navigate your daily activities and habits to minimize pain and prevent further damage to your spine.

Key Takeaways

  1. Avoid high-impact activities and opt for low-impact exercises to reduce stress on your spine.
  2. Maintain good posture and use proper body mechanics to prevent additional strain on your spinal discs.
  3. Make lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and eating a balanced diet, to support your spinal health.

Understanding Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative disc disease occurs when the spinal discs, which act as cushions between the vertebrae, begin to break down.

This degeneration can be caused by factors such as aging, wear and tear, and injury. As the discs lose their elasticity and ability to absorb shock, you may experience symptoms like back pain, stiffness, and reduced flexibility.

In some cases, the condition can also lead to nerve compression, causing pain, numbness, or weakness in the arms or legs.

Things to Avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease

1. High-Impact Activities

One of the most important things to avoid when you have degenerative disc disease is high-impact activities.

These activities, such as running, jumping, or heavy lifting, can put excessive stress on your spinal discs, exacerbating pain and increasing the risk of further damage.

Instead, opt for low-impact exercises like swimming, walking, or using an elliptical machine. These activities provide cardiovascular benefits without putting undue strain on your spine.

2. Poor Posture and Incorrect Body Mechanics

Poor posture and incorrect body mechanics can also contribute to the progression of degenerative disc disease. When you slouch or hunch over, you put additional pressure on your spinal discs, which can worsen pain and discomfort.

To minimize these effects, be mindful of your posture throughout the day. Sit in a chair with sufficient lumbar support and keep your feet flat on the floor. When standing, keep your shoulders back and your head aligned with your spine. Lift items with your legs, not your back, and avoid twisting actions.

3. Prolonged Sitting or Standing

Prolonged sitting or standing can also be detrimental to your spinal health when you have degenerative disc disease. When you remain in one position for extended periods, your spinal discs are subjected to constant pressure, which can lead to increased pain and stiffness.

To combat this, take regular breaks to stand up, stretch, or walk around. If you have a desk job, consider using a standing desk or investing in an ergonomic chair to promote better posture and reduce the strain on your spine.

4. Smoking and Poor Nutrition

Smoking and poor nutrition can also have a negative impact on your spinal health, particularly when you have degenerative disc disease, Smoking restricts blood flow to your spinal discs, which can hinder their ability to heal and regenerate. This can accelerate the degeneration process and increase your risk of chronic pain.

Additionally, a diet lacking in essential nutrients can weaken your bones and muscles, making you more susceptible to spinal problems. To support your spinal health, quit smoking and focus on eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.

Managing Degenerative Disc Disease

While avoiding certain activities and habits is crucial for managing degenerative disc disease, there are also proactive steps you can take to support your spinal health. These include:

  1. Physical therapy: Working with a physical therapist can help you strengthen your core and back muscles, improve your flexibility, and learn proper body mechanics to reduce the strain on your spine.
  2. Chiropractic care: Chiropractors can use manual adjustments and other techniques to alleviate pain, improve mobility, and promote healing in your spine.
  3. Regular exercise: Engaging in regular low-impact exercise can help maintain your spinal health, reduce pain, and improve your overall quality of life. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
  4. Maintaining a healthy weight: Excess weight can put additional stress on your spine, exacerbating degenerative disc disease symptoms. By maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise, you can reduce the strain on your spinal discs and promote better overall health.
  5. Stress management: Chronic stress can contribute to muscle tension and pain, making degenerative disc disease symptoms worse. Incorporate stress-reducing techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine to help manage your symptoms.

Also Read: Ear Pain When Swallowing: Causes, Symptoms, And Relief

Conclusion

Living with degenerative disc disease can be challenging, but by avoiding certain activities and habits and adopting a proactive approach to your spinal health, you can effectively manage your symptoms and maintain a good quality of life.

Remember to listen to your body, avoid high-impact activities, maintain good posture, and make positive lifestyle changes to support your spinal health. If you have any concerns or questions about your condition, don’t hesitate to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized guidance and treatment options.

FAQs

1. Can I still exercise with degenerative disc disease?

A: Yes, exercise is essential for managing degenerative disc disease. However, it’s important to focus on low-impact activities that don’t put excessive strain on your spine. Some excellent options include swimming, walking, cycling, and yoga. Always consult with your healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting a new exercise routine to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your condition.

2. Will I need surgery for degenerative disc disease?

A: Most people with degenerative disc disease can manage their symptoms through conservative treatments like physical therapy, chiropractic care, and lifestyle changes. However, in some cases, surgery may be necessary if conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if you experience severe pain, weakness, or numbness. Your healthcare provider can help determine if surgery is the best option for your specific situation.

3. Can diet affect degenerative disc disease?

A: Yes, diet can play a role in managing degenerative disc disease. Eating a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can help support your spinal health by providing essential nutrients for bone and muscle strength. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet can reduce the strain on your spinal discs and alleviate symptoms. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, obesity is a risk factor for degenerative disc disease.

4. How can I cope with the emotional impact of degenerative disc disease?

A: Living with chronic pain can take a toll on your emotional well-being. It’s essential to prioritize your mental health as you manage your physical symptoms. Some strategies for coping with the emotional impact of degenerative disc disease include seeking support from loved ones, joining a support group for people with chronic pain, practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. If you’re struggling with depression or anxiety related to your condition, don’t hesitate to seek help from a mental health professional.

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