What is DDD?
Aging often causes wear to the discs of cartilage that cushion vertebrae. The cartilage starts to dry out and becomes thinner, and tiny cracks may appear in the disc’s annulus (the outer layer). The material inside the disc may be forced out through these cracks, causing the disc to collapse or break. This leads to inflammation and what doctors call “micromotion instability.” In this case, the disc doesn’t respond to spinal movement as effectively, leading to pain.
The symptoms of DDD include:
- Pain that flares up with exertion, particularly when the sufferer bends, lifts, or twists. The pain diminishes or ceases at times, and its severity depends on the individual patient. Frequently changing position eases the pain.
- Severe pain that can last for days or months then returns to the “normal” pain the patient is accustomed to most of the time.
- In some instances, sitting can make the pain worse, and is relieved when a person walks or runs. Other patients feel better when they lie down and prop their knees on a pillow.
- Many patients with degenerative disc disease have back spasms, which are believed to be the muscles’ attempt to stabilize the spinal column and correct for micromotion.
Fortunately, there are several ways to treat DDD pain. The patient, with the help of a physician and physical therapist, can perform exercises to reduce discomfort and help the back to heal. These include hamstring exercises and motion that strengthens the patient’s core.
The patient can also modify lifestyle to reduce pain. Some of these changes include quitting smoking and decreasing alcohol consumption, staying hydrated and making sure to not stay in one position for a long time. If a person works at a desk, for example, they should get up every 30-60 minutes to walk and stretch.
If you believe you are suffering from degenerative disc disease in Ontario, call for a consultation with one of the specialists at Oriole Physiotherapy and Rehabilitation Centre. Our number is (416) 221-0772.