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Degenerative Disc Disease Prevention and Relief

Peer Reviewed

Degenerative disc disease (DDD) can be a painful and debilitating condition. Once your spine specialist has outlined a treatment plan, follow it exactly—that's the best way to bring back pain relief.

To recover from DDD, make sure you have regular check-ups, and tell you doctor if you are not getting better or if a particular treatment option isn't reducing your pain. If your doctor recommends surgery, there are several steps you can take to ensure your body is ready. These critical steps can make a world of difference.

Lifestyle changes are the best road to wellness.

  • If you smoke, now is the time to stop. Smoking negatively impacts your bone health, in addition to being a respiratory risk factor. Smoking may accelerate the degenerative process, especially in your spine's bones.
  • If you are overweight, now is the time to lose weight. It is a simple premise—when you weigh more, your body is strained every day from involuntary (heart and lung function) and daily activities (walking and lifting, for example). The extra weight and extra strain on your spine could also speed up the degenerative process as your vertebrae and discs work harder to support your body.

Being aware of your back and its relation to overall body health can help you live a more pain-free life. Some back problems can be lessened with simple measures.

  • Sit and stand properly.
  • Exercise regularly. (Gentle, weight-bearing exercise is especially good.)
  • Lift safely (bending your knees to lift something, not your back).

You may think of degenerative disc disease as the “gray hairs of the spine,” but with proper care, your spine and lower back will serve you well for many years to come. Treat your back right and enjoy the benefits of a healthy spine—including preventing back painno matter what your age.

Updated on: 09/07/12
Jason M. Highsmith, MD
This article was reviewed by Jason M. Highsmith, MD.
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