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Physical therapy for degenerative disc disease

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative disc disease occurs when normal aging and degeneration of the spine causes pain. Spinal discs act as shock absorbers between the spine’s vertebrae, and with age, they tend to break down. Not everyone will experience pain as their spinal discs break down, but patients who do are considered to have degenerative disc disease.

Patients who have degenerative disc disease are likely to feel sharp or constant pain in their back or neck. In extreme cases, patients may experience numbness or tingling in the limbs. Degenerative disc disease is usually treated with mild pain medication, though physical therapy is often recommended, as well.

Source: WebMD

Degenerative disc disease symptoms

Because degenerative disc disease isn’t actually a disease, but rather a term to refer to pain some patients may experience during the natural aging process, there is a wide range of symptoms and severity levels. That said, there are some tell-tale symptoms of the disease.

Patients with degenerative disc disease are likely to experience worsened pain while sitting, bending, lifting, or twisting, which tends to get better after some walking or standing. Pain tends to go in and out, lasting for a few days before disappearing for a while. In rare cases, patients may experience numbness or tingling in the limbs, or weakness in the leg muscles.

The most common symptoms of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Pain while sitting
  • Pain while bending, lifting, or twisting
  • Numbness or tingling in the extremities

Source: Cedars-Sinai

What causes degenerative disc disease?

Age is the primary cause of degenerative disc disease, as it’s natural for the spinal discs to break down over time. However, a few factors tend to differentiate patients who do and don’t experience pain as this occurs.

For one, patients who experience pain are more likely to have more severe drying out of the discs. Spinal discs are about 80 percent water at birth, but this naturally decreases over time, reducing the discs’ ability to absorb shock. People who experience more pain typically also experience more dryness; they also tend to have participated in activities that place stress on the spine or cause spinal injury.

The most common causes of degenerative disc disease include:

  • Dryness of the disc
  • Activities that place stress on the spine
  • Injury

Source: Cedars-Sinai

Physical therapy for degenerative disc disease

Degenerative disc disease can significantly weaken the back, so most physical therapy regimens focus on strengthening the surrounding muscles to compensate for this weakness, while also targeting the pain in the spine. To alleviate pain, a physical therapist may recommend hot and cold therapies, spinal traction, or deep tissue massage.

In addition, your physical therapist will guide you through exercises to stretch and strengthen the back, neck, and core muscles in order to offer your spine better support.

Source: Spine Universe

Luna’s physical therapists treat
degenerative disc disease

Luna’s physical therapists specialize in treating degenerative disc disease. With effective pain management techniques plus a tailored exercise and stretching plan, degenerative disc disease can be a thing of your past, once and for all.

Best of all, with Luna, patients can receive physical therapy for degenerative disc disease wherever it’s most convenient — at home, at the gym, or even at work. Our physical therapists come to you — it’s physical therapy, delivered.

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