Degenerative disc disease is a common condition that can be quite painful. Learn about the most common degenerative disc disease treatment options here.

What Are the Most Common Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Options?

Did you know that spinal degeneration is one of the most prevalent conditions in the world? If you’re reading this, chances are you have the signs of degenerative disc disease and you know that its symptoms are not fun.

Regardless of age, it has the potential to cause serious debilitation to your quality of life. Many people have sought degenerative disc disease treatment options over the years, and luckily, there are many different methods available.

Keep reading so you can choose what’s best for you. Let’s get started! 

What Is Degenerative Disc Disease?

DDD is a condition of the spine caused by the deterioration of the discs in the spinal column. Treatment for this condition is usually focused on alleviating pain and preventing the progress of DDD.

Common treatment options depend on the patient and may include some combination of the following:

  • Medications and injections
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic manipulation
  • Supportive devices or braces
  • Heat or cold applications

If none of these options offer relief, surgery may be necessary, which may involve removing portions of the disc or spinal fusion. It is best to consult with a doctor to determine which solution will suit the particular situation.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is one of the most common treatments for degenerative disc disease. Its main goal is to reduce pain, improve posture and mobility, and strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine.

Stretching can also relieve pressure on the disc, which can reduce pain and inflammation. In addition, strengthening muscles can provide stability and reduce the stress on the affected area.

Other treatments, such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and hot/cold therapy, may also be used to supplement physical remedies. 

Pain Medications

These medications come in both over-the-counter and prescription forms, helping to relieve overall pain levels. NSAIDs are often the first option, as they can help reduce inflammation in the affected area.

Additionally, narcotic pain medications such as oxycodone can also be prescribed when NSAIDs are not sufficient. Other options can also be prescribed, such as:

  • Muscle relaxers
  • Corticosteroids
  • Opioids
  • Epidural steroids
  • Antidepressants
  • Nerve blocks

These can all be used to alleviate spasms and improve the range of motion. 

Steroid Injections

These injections work by bringing down inflammation and pain in the affected area. It also allows the patient to move the distressed part with greater ease. Additionally, it involves taking steroids and numbing them before injecting them directly into the affected area.

These may be used as a single administration or over a series of back-to-back injections. However, it is important to discuss the benefits and risks associated with your doctor before getting the injection. Possible side effects of these shots may include:

  • Infection
  • Increased blood sugar levels
  • Nerve damage
  • Allergic reaction
  • Increased pressure on spine discs

With proper care and administration, steroid injections can be an effective and safe way to manage pain associated with DDD.

Lifestyle Modifications 

Another option how to treat degenerative disc disease is through lifestyle adjustments. This can include changing up your physical activity routine to include low-impact exercises like:

  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming or yoga
  • Implementing stretching
  • Massage
  • Altering your posture

Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight, eating nutritious foods, and incorporating strength training are all beneficial. Furthermore, certain strategies can also be used, such as:

  • Utilizing relaxation techniques like deep breathing and meditation
  • Taking alternative medicine
  • Getting plenty of exercises
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Avoiding activities that stress the spine
  • Quitting smoking
  • Hold back from excessive alcohol
  • Getting enough sleep

Regardless of the treatment chosen, the goal is to reduce pain, restore spine function, and prevent further degeneration of the affected discs.

Surgical Intervention for DDD

Surgery is typically reserved for cases that do not respond to conservative therapy. It may involve either fusion in the affected vertebrae or, in more severe cases, disc replacement. In some cases, minimally invasive surgery like extreme lateral interbody fusion may be recommended.

This procedure uses tiny incisions to access the spine, allowing the surgeon to repair any herniated or bulging discs. The goal of these treatments is to reduce pain and improve the quality of life long-term. Other types of surgery can also be used like:

  • Discectomy
  • Foraminotomy
  • Laminectomy
  • Spinal fusion

However, there are risks and potential side effects that must be considered. So, it is important to speak with your physician to know if surgery is the right treatment option for you.

Chiropractic Care 

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive treatment that provides relief from the discomfort associated with disc degeneration. It also focuses on manual adjustments to the spine, to reduce pain and restore mobility.

Additionally, the chiropractor can also provide exercise and lifestyle advice to lessen the strain on the lower back muscles. Ultimately, this is the most favored of all options due to its low rate of negative side effects and the fact that it is both non-invasive and natural.

Risks Associated With DDD if Left Untreated 

If left untreated, risks associated with DDD can extend to irreversible damage or disability. The longer the symptoms are ignored, the more difficult it will be to cure the condition and alleviate the pain.

Additionally, the severity of the pain and the risk of further nerve damage may also increase. Plus, it can cause serious medical issues, such as chronic back pain, loss of mobility, and in extreme cases, paralysis.

Therefore, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. 

The Benefits of Non-Surgical Interventions

The benefits of non-surgical interventions can include reduced discomfort and increased mobility, preserved spinal function, and improved daily function with less reliance on pain medications.

Additionally, they are less costly than invasive back surgeries and don’t involve the inherent risks of complications or slow recovery times. Non-surgical interference is not meant to be a “cure-all” approach, but it may provide added relief in combination with other treatments.

A Guide to the Typical Degenerative Disc Disease Treatment Options

Degenerative disc disease treatment options can vary from simple lifestyle changes such as physical therapy and aggressive pain management to surgery should conservative methods fail.

It is always best to work with your physician to find the best treatment program for you. The only way to ensure the best outcome is to make sure you take the time to research and discuss it thoroughly with your doctor.

So what are you waiting for? Get started on your journey to better health today! 

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