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3 Tips to Prevent Degenerative Disc Disease

Published June 28, 2017    

Jamie M. from Ferns, Ireland, a degenerative disc patient, expressed her daily pain annoyance in an online forum. Read this guys, seriously.

Oh God! I just got up to make my child tea and myself a coffee, I [get] to the kitchen (a few steps away) [and] was hanging onto the counter to try to keep myself up [from] the crippling pain in my leg. I put the kettle on and sat down in tears. When it boiled, I [tried] again and barely got the drinks made — I made it back to the couch and had to get my child to carry in her own tea and I'll have to get the coffee in a minute when it dies down again. I can't go on like this every day. [It's] the same the pain and it's just taking over. I can't cope with it. It has made me so lonely and depressed. I'm tired of being in pain. I'm exhausted all the time from the meds and not sleeping properly. I just wish I could stand up and walk without the intense pain starting. Sick of it! The worst is I know there are people in here going through this for years and I am only this bad for a few months. I can't cope. I don't know how you do it. It's not right for people to suffer like this and to be just left in pain!

Is that sound similar to your thoughts? Does this sound all too familiar? Because we at BackerNation know what it's like living in chronic back pain caused by Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD). Many of you feel this way too. What you'll find below are tips for preventing DDD. There are actions to be taken to avoid a DDD diagnosis. For any first time readers who may be asking what the heck is DDD — we have you covered. Read on.

What is DDD?

Technically, degenerative disc disease isn’t a single discrete illness — it’s a term which describes symptoms arising from the natural degeneration of spinal discs with age. As you age, your spinal discs grow less flexible, offer less padding, and become worn. In some people, these changes bring serious symptoms or lead to various secondary ailments.

Thus, degenerative disc disease can refer to both general problems of flexibility and pain in the back, or to specific issues such as osteoarthritis, spinal stenosis, or herniated discs. All of these can put pressure on your nerves and spinal cord, resulting in pain, reduced nerve function and a host of other problems.

As you age, your spinal discs grow less flexible, offer less padding, and become worn.

So now you know what DDD is — we are now diving into ways to prevent this diagnosis. 

Because DDD can affect anyone, it is best to implement these strategies for preventive spine care so that your spinal discs stay healthy as you get older.

Treat Your Body With Healthy Foods

A proper diet for those with degenerative disc.

Everyone has at least heard of Dr. Oz, right? If you don't know too much about him — don't worry. Mehmet Cengiz Öz, better known as Dr. Oz, is a Turkish-American cardiothoracic surgeon and professor at Columbia University, pseudoscience promoter, author and television personality. He has his own TV show, and it's called — Drum roll please — The Dr. Oz Show (that makes sense).

In an article entitled Degenerative Disc Disease: What You Need to Know, Dr. Oz said, “Eating heart-healthy foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like salmon and tuna, and having a diet rich in whole grains, beans and nuts will improve the health of your spine by improving your blood pressure. Controlling your blood pressure and cholesterol will not only help your heart – it will help your spine.”

Your diet supplies your bones with the nutrients they need to regenerate and retain their density throughout the aging process. When you eat to nourish your bones, the vertebrae will stay healthier and support the spinal discs that rest between them. Important foods to incorporate into your diet for bone health include leafy green vegetables, whole grain pasta and bread, fish, nuts, and dairy products. It is also beneficial to avoid toxins from fatty foods, alcohol, and tobacco.

An Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Rush University — a private university on the West Side of Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Joanna Kuppy notated, “Tobacco use has adverse effects on many organ systems. People know about the effects on your heart and lungs in terms of the increased risk of heart attacks and lung cancer. Most people do not realize that smoking may contribute to musculoskeletal problems as well.”

Drink Plenty of Water Every Day

A sparkling glass of water with a touch of lime. Those with DDD must stay well hydrated.

The degenerative process occurs in spinal discs as these spongy structures lose their water content, so staying hydrated every day will help the discs stay stronger. Drinking more water can also help to regulate your weight, and this will take some extra pressure off of your spine. Instead of drinking sodas or other sugary drinks (we know they taste so good, but play the tape — sugar = inflammation), consider herbal tea and/or pure water. If you hate the taste of water, adding a few drops of lemon or lime juice may help spice it up.

Fun fact: Drinking water also helps the skin do its job of regulating the body's temperature through sweating. Feed your body. Water is essential for the proper circulation of nutrients in your body. Water serves at the body's transportation system and when we are dehydrated things just can't get around as well. Drink your eight glasses of water a day and we promise, you won't regret it!

Stay Active

A woman with degenerative disc staying active by jogging.

The impact of daily activities can wear out your spinal discs if the spine is not supported with adequate muscular structure. Muscles are more resilient to pressure from walking, bending, and twisting. Therefore, you should develop an exercise routine that includes aerobic and strength training exercises that will build muscles in your back and your core.

“Being active and flexible is the ultimate goal for back pain resolution,” explained Dr. Mila Mogilevsky, a pain management specialist at Beth Israel Medical Center and the founder and medical director of Unique Pain Medicine. “In our practice, we start and end with physical therapy. Treatments such as medications and interventional procedures serve to act as a ‘bridge’ allowing patients to get back to a healthy exercise program.

Yoga may also be a useful tool for certain patients. Yoga is a great way to improve flexibility without putting extra strain on the joints. It is also a unique opportunity to connect your mind and body, which is so important for the healing process.”

Last change: January 24, 2019