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What Can You Do To Help Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?

What is Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is very common (can also be known as osteoarthritis or ‘wear-and-tear’ arthritis).  However, just because it is common does not mean it is “normal.”  Just like high blood pressure or cholesterol is common, certainly does not make them “normal.”  DDD occurs when the soft disc material between two vertebrae begin to narrow (loss of disc height).  When this occurs, spinal joints can become stiff, inflamed, and cause pain to surrounding tissues like ligaments and nerves.

What are Common Symptoms of DDD?

Degenerative Disc Disease can contribute to or causes many problems like sciatica, morning stiffness, neck pain and headaches, disc herniations and a host of other undesirable symptoms.  One interesting fact is that the amount of DDD someone has correlates very poorly to how much pain someone may have.  While one person can have very mild DDD and have significant pain, another with severe DDD may have very little pain or none whatsoever!

Degenerative Disc Disease alters how one moves, contributes to abnormal posture, and causes a greater risk of having other related problems that can affect your quality of life – running, bending, picking things up, swinging a golf club, or even being able to get out of chair can become extremely difficult.  Many normal activities of daily living can be affected, therefore you should be pro-active in order to help yourself before it worsens.

What Causes Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD)?

There are many causes to DDD.  It can even start in young kids without them ever having any pain.  However, here are some of the main causes –

  • Genetics – research suggests that some people may be more susceptible to DDD.
  • Smoking – research suggests that smoking can stop discs from taking in nutrients and that the chronic cough associated with smokers may cause micro-damage over time from constant compression of your spinal discs (just like excessive weight on our frame can).
  • Inactivity – Your discs require you to move in various ways in order to maintain their health; without consistent movement, your discs can dry out and begin degenerating.
  • Old Injuries (trauma) – Falls, car accidents, sporting injuries, trips, etc.…will all cause compression to your discs…these injuries usually come back to ‘haunt us’ years later.
  • Bad Posture – computers, mobiles, tablets, commuting, Netflix, etc.…cause ‘micro’ damage to our spines over long periods of repetitive poor postures…one of the MOST common causes from our modern lifestyles

What Can Be Done to Help Degenerative Disc Disease?

Before attempting to help yourself, you should make sure your diagnosis is correct. In addition to some specific signs and symptoms, a spinal x-ray can determine whether DDD is present or not.  Here are some things you can do to help minimize the effects of DDD and help prevent or slow its progression:

  1. Move more that you currently do.
  2. Stretch daily.  Yoga is great.
  3. Be posture-aware in your daily activities – do you sleep/sit in the best positions?
  4. Eat whole non-processed foods to help with healing and reduce inflammation.
  5. If you smoke, consider quitting.
  6. Consider being checked and examined by a chiropractor.

If you haven’t yet, get a comprehensive spinal exam.  It should include standing/postural spinal x-rays, range of motion, strength, and a neurological testing.  This will determine if you have DDD, and what the best plan of management will be for you.

No need to suffer from the effects of DDD,

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