For optimum health, the discs in your spine need two things more than anything else – Water and movement. Providing the first of these requirements is easy and straightforward to accomplish. All you need to do is drink plenty of water to keep your body, including your spinal discs hydrated. Meeting the latter need requires a little more focus, especially in the midst of the busy, yet sedentary lives that many of us tend to lead.
Why Your Spinal Discs Need Movement
The nucleus or inner-most core of our spinal discs are a bit like balls of jelly and when healthy are hydrophilic, which means they attract water. However in order to attract water effectively and remain sufficiently hydrated, our discs need to keep on the move. This becomes even more important as we age, since whether we are aware of it or not, the structure of our spinal discs degenerates little by little as the years pass by.
Regular exercise and correcting postural problems associated with sitting for long hours is important whether or not your spinal discs are currently healthy. Providing them with the movement they need will help keep you free from problems causing neck or lower back pain, as well as preventing disc degeneration. If you already have a disc disorder, moving your way to a healthier spinal disc is not just beneficial, it can also be a very enjoyable way to spend some recreational time.
Ways to Use Movement for Spinal Health
You can begin to focus on keeping your spinal discs healthy through movement with nothing more complicated than a few stretches. If you start every day with some stretching exercises you will feel invigorated as well as being a step closer to optimal disc health. Next come a few simple lifestyle changes to become more physically active, especially if your job has you sitting all day or you’re just not accustomed to aerobic exercise.
For example, walking and cycling are two low impact forms of aerobic exercise which you may be able to incorporate into your daily life. If you live close to your workplace, consider walking or cycling to and from work each day. Even if you take public transport into work, walking home can be a great way to switch out of work mode and see your community from a different viewpoint. At the same time you will be actively working out those spinal discs.
Of course if you want to take the exercise regime a step further, you could swim a few times per week or join a gym and use their aerobic equipment. Another form of exercise you could invest time in is Pilates, which is a pleasurable way to work out and great for spinal disc health.
Pilates for a Healthy Spine
Pilates is a low impact exercise program which emphasizes alignment of the spine and strengthening of the core muscles which support it. More specifically, Pilates focuses on the following principles:
- Using mental concentration to enhance muscle control and movement efficiency
- The use of breathing to maintain concentration and to remain centered
- Maintaining neutral spine alignment during all exercises
- Development of the abdominal muscles and deep muscles in your back
- Building muscle strength, length and flexibility
There are two main formats of the Pilates exercise system and you can choose the format that you prefer. One format is focused on the use of unique equipment, while the other consists of mat exercises without the use of any apparatus.
Pilates is suitable even if you suffer from a condition which causes lower back pain (although you should always check with your physician before starting any exercise program). In this case it can be beneficial to have some private sessions with a Pilates instructor initially, as it can be critical to perform the exercises correctly. After a while you should be able to safely move on to less expensive group Pilates classes.
The beauty of Pilates is that although many of the movements can be challenging, the best exercises for spinal disc health are the simplest ones to learn. These movements are the ones which focus most on correct spinal alignment, movement of the hips and shoulders and strengthening of your core muscles. Even better, once you have learned these exercises you can easily practice them at home to keep improving the health of your discs in between group sessions.
Remember – It Costs More to Do Nothing
Joining a gym, taking yoga or Pilates classes and even going to the local pool might cost a few dollars. However that’s nothing compared to the financial and personal costs of chronic lower back or neck pain and those associated with treating spinal disc disorders. Think of any money you spend as an investment in the only spine you will ever have – Surely a worthy cause.
Even if you don’t want to shell out for organized exercise programs, taking a daily walk and stretching to start the day cost nothing, whereas doing nothing could ultimately cost you a lot of lost earnings as well as the quality of life you have when your spinal discs are healthy and hydrated.
Degenerative disc disease is an often misunderstood term, at least outside of the professional medical environment. However it’s one of the most common causes of neck and lower back pain in adults. Many of us will suffer symptoms at some point in our later lives as a result of one or more degenerative discs. Today’s post seeks to unravel some of the mysteries of degenerative disc disease and provide some factual information about its treatment.
DDD – What It Is and What It Isn’t
Let’s start with 3 key points about the term “degenerative disc disease” or DDD and what it really means.
1) When we hear the term “degenerative”, we quite rightly become alarmed. In the case of degenerative disc disease though, it’s important to understand that “degenerative” refers to the condition of our spinal discs, which inexorably deteriorates as we age. It does not relate to the symptoms. In other words, if you are diagnosed with DDD, it doesn’t mean you will suffer greater degrees of pain or that you will necessarily become more handicapped in terms of mobility over time.
2) In terms of its nature and severity, DDD can vary greatly. Some of us will develop symptoms, others may never do so. A great deal depends on how well you look after your spine throughout your life. Smokers, people who perform heavy manual labor and those who are significantly overweight are at greater risk of DDD resulting in lower back or neck pain.
3) Perhaps the most important point to understand is that Degenerative Disc Disease is not actually a disease, despite its title. DDD is something which happens to all of us, to a greater or lesser degree and is a natural part of the ageing process. As we get older a number of things happen to the discs in our spine, these changes include:
- A reduction in the amount of fluid contained within the discs
- Minute tears or cracks form in the annulus or outer layer of our discs
- In some cases, the jelly-like material from the disc nucleus may be forced out through the tears in the annulus
DDD begins to manifest itself as a problem either when it directly results in inflammation and pain or when other conditions, such as a bulging or herniated disc or spinal stenosis occur as a result of the degeneration.
Prevention and Treatment of Degenerative Discs
While it may not be possible to prevent the natural degeneration of our spinal discs as we age, there are ways to keep it at bay and reduce the likelihood of further conditions arising. In the event that DDD begins to cause chronic neck or lower back pain or other uncomfortable symptoms, treatments range from medication and invasive spinal back surgery to more conservative, alternative forms of therapy.
1) To reduce the risk of DDD advancing prematurely and/or causing painful symptoms, a number of pro-active measures can be taken, most of which relate to activity and lifestyle. Some examples include:
- Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet
- Regular exercise to control weight and promote spinal mobility
- Quit smoking or better still, don’t ever start smoking
- Invest in a program of preventative care, such as regular visits to a chiropractor
- Practice safe lifting techniques when involved in heavy manual work activity
2) If you begin to suffer from the symptoms of degenerative disc disease, you will almost certainly need to seek treatment, both to help manage the pain and to try and achieve a remedy for the underlying problem. Very often, the onset of chronic back pain stems from complications arising as a result of degenerative discs. Common problems include:
- Spinal Stenosis
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
3) Pain from degenerative disc disease may manifest as mild, moderate or even terrible backache, but the condition can also cause pain, pins and needles or numbness in the limbs. Mild to moderate pain can sometimes be relieved by the application of hot or cold packs to the affected area. Some people choose to manage pain with over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication or perhaps using stronger medications prescribed by a doctor. Others may try receiving steroid injections around the spine to relieve inflammation and associated muscle spasms.
In cases of spinal stenosis or bulging or herniated discs, physicians may recommend surgery. This commonly involves removing the degenerated or damaged disc. Sometimes surgery involves fusing the bones to protect the spinal cord. However surgery carries associated risks, is expensive and does not guarantee that a patient will be free from further degenerative disc problems. Steroidal injections too can be risky and involve unpleasant side effects. Pain relief medication does no more than provide short term pain relief and can be harmful if used for prolonged periods.
If you are suffering from chronic back or neck pain as a result of degenerative discs and have tried various treatments to little effect, you may be eligible for a revolutionary form of conservative treatment offered by Orange County Wellness Physicians Medical Center.
95% Chance of Long Term Pain Relief – Spine and Disc Restoration
At OCWP, our SDR SystemTMuses non-invasive, side effect-free treatment methods to provide long lasting relief from DDD and other disc disorder symptoms. Combining spinal decompression with deep tissue laser treatment, this system also acts directly on damaged discs to promote healing and reversal of disc damage.
Our system is at the absolute forefront of treatment for degenerative disc disease andpatients who qualify enjoy a success rate of 95%. If you are suffering from the symptoms of degenerative disc disease and have tried various treatments to no avail, find out more about the SDR SystemTM. Simply enter your email address here and you’ll receive details in your inbox immediately.