Physical Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease

Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms

Degenerative disc disease is part of the normal process of aging and affects many adults over the age of 50. Oftentimes, degenerative disc disease does not result in symptoms. However, in some cases, mild to severe symptoms may occur if a damaged disc compresses a nerve root in the spinal canal. This could result in symptoms such as:

  • Neck or back pain, ranging from mild to severe, that travels to the extremities
  • Numbness or tingling in the shoulders and arms (cervical degenerative disc disease)
  • Pain in the rib cage (thoracic spine)
  • Numbness in the legs (lumbar degenerative disc disease)

If you have been experiencing these symptoms, you should consult your physician about treatment options to find pain relief. If left untreated, these symptoms can worsen and eventually cause a decrease in your quality of life. You may already be experiencing some of this decrease if your symptoms prevent you from doing the activities in life you enjoy. Once you consult your physician, you can ask about physical therapy to treat your degenerative disc disease.

Physical Therapy for Degenerative Disc Disease

Physical therapy (PT) is one of the most common forms of conservative treatment for back pain. First, it strengthens the muscles, making them more capable of assuming some of the workload usually performed by discs. Second, physical therapy increases local blood circulation to damaged tissue. More oxygen and nutrients arrive at the site of injury and are available for repair. Third, physical therapy increases flexibility, making re-injury less likely.

Physical therapy for degenerative disc disease will not only help you manage your pain, it will also improve your strength, range of motion, and flexibility. Along with learning proper posture and lifting techniques, therapeutic treatments typically involve:

  • The use of hot and cold packs
  • Deep tissue massage
  • Spinal traction
  • Muscle-strengthening workouts, like yoga
  • Wall pushups and exercise ball stretches
  • No-impact or low-impact aerobic activities including swimming, walking, and biking

In some cases, patients may not find relief through physical therapy. If you have been doing physical therapy for several months and still suffer from chronic pain, consult your physician. Your doctor may recommend that you try other forms of conservative treatments, or that you undergo spinal surgery to alleviate your pain.

Surgery with BEST Health System

You may be a candidate for surgery if you have tried a combination of conservative therapies without finding relief from your chronic pain. BEST Health System offers a variety of spine procedures that are alternatives to traditional spine surgery. Our minimally invasive procedures allow for smaller incisions and a quicker recovery time, all on an outpatient basis. Contact BEST today to learn more about minimally invasive spine surgery with BEST Health System.