Five Ways to Manage Degenerative Disc Disease at Home
What is Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative disc disease is a condition in which the discs, located between the individual vertebra, deteriorates and break down. The discs no longer provide support between the vertebrae, which leads to pain and other symptoms.
There are a variety of at home options for helping keep degenerative disc disease from progressing and for dealing with the related pain.
Staying active is an important way to slow the progression of degenerative disc disease. Low impact aerobic activity, such as walking, gentle swimming, or water aerobics, will produce endorphins, the body’s natural painkiller, and may help with weight control which can reduce pressure on the spine. Light, gentle stretching can be done with the goal of keeping back flexibility. It is important not to overstretch as that can lead to increase pain. Yoga or Pilates can be a great ways to stretch and improve core strength. Exercises to avoid include: sit-ups or toe-touching while bending forward at the waist from a standing position.
Ensuring proper posture will reduce strain and pain on the spine. It’s important to be sure to sit and stand up straight. Watch out for the inward rounding shoulder and slouching. To prevent further damage, make sure to use good body mechanics when lifting objects.
Medications that are available over- the-counter can help with the pain from degenerative disc disease. Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications like naproxen or ibuprofen. As well, there are topical options such as lidocaine patches or menthol rubs.
Temperature Therapy and TENS
Hot and cold compress can help. Hot compresses relax stiff muscles and joints. Cold compresses can help numb pain. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation or TENS uses electrical impulses to prevents pain signals from reaching the brain.
Meditation and Guided Visualization
Relaxation techniques such as guided imagery, hypnosis and visualization can help alleviate pain, anxiety and depression. These techniques include breathing exercises and visualizations, which allow the mind wander free by picturing places to travel to or enjoyable activities. It has the added benefit of helping the body relax by engaging the relaxation response.