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degenerative disc disease

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

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Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can happen in the neck or back. It is often considered a normal part of aging. Some people have degenerative disc disease and do not have any pain or symptoms at all. For other people, pain may be the first sign that you are suffering from this condition.

Degenerative Disc Disease: How Does It Happen?

Discs sit in between the vertebrae in your spine. In this position, they act as a cushion for the vertebrae, and also act to help hold together your spine and allow it to bend and move slightly.

They contain mostly water when we are born. Over time, the discs lose their hydration. Because there is no direct blood supply to the discs, they do not have the ability to heal. That — combined with the nerves that run closely through your spine — is why degenerative disc disease may become painful.

People more at risk for degenerative disc disease include those who are overweight, smoke, demonstrate a lack of exercise, or complete intense physical work regularly.

Signs & Symptoms Of Degenerative Disc Disease

Here are several common signs and symptoms that may indicate you have degenerative disc disease:

  • Numbness, tingling, weakness in the arms and legs
  • Pain that seems worse first thing in the morning
  • Pain that seems worse after staying in a position for a long time
  • Pain that seems worse after sitting, bending, or reaching
  • Pain in the lower back, buttocks, or legs

Degenerative disc disease does not just happen in the spine. It can also happen in the neck. If it does, you may be noticing pain in the neck, arm, and/or shoulder.

DDD can be diagnosed through imaging.

Can Physical Therapy Help Degenerative Disc Disease?

Yes! Physical therapy can help degenerative disc disease in the following ways:

  • PT can teach you how to strengthen your core to take some pressure off of your spine and help reduce pain.

[Related article: 3 Stretches For Lower Back Pain]

  • A physical therapist can show you safe ways to exercise to reduce weight if being overweight has been a contributing factor.
  • A physical therapist can perform manual therapy to help alleviate points of pain from joints and muscles.
  • Your physical therapist can teach you about body mechanics and how you can move differently to help alleviate your pain.

If left untreated, this condition may worsen or your pain may be recurring. Our physical therapists can help tailor a program that is right for you and help to lessen the effects of DDD on your body and help to alleviate pain. 

To get started, contact us today.