An ounce of prevention may lessen the effects of degenerative disc disease

Degenerative Disc Disease

 

Degenerative Disc Disease is a condition that evolves over time. As we age, we all will have changes occur in the spine, it is simply a natural part of growing older. While the process itself is inevitable, not everyone will experience symptoms. Back and neck pain, especially when bending, twisting or lifting, can be signs of degeneration of the discs in the spine. If you experience radiating pain, muscle weakness or numbness, it is important to have an evaluation by a physician, or physical therapist, to determine the underlying cause, and prevent any further collateral damage.

Be proactive and follow these simple steps to reduce your risk of developing symptoms, or to lessen the impact of disc and joint problems.

Change your diet.

There is no magic bullet or miracle food that will eliminate DDD. However, certain foods do have properties that help the body heal faster and reduce the effects of the natural wear and tear that comes with aging.

There is no magic bullet or miracle food that will eliminate DDD. However, certain foods do have properties that help the body heal faster and reduce the effects of the natural wear and tear that comes with aging.

  1. Salmon, and other oily fish, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a recognized remedy to help reduce inflammation. Try adding fish to your diet several times a week.
  2. Nuts, especially walnuts and almonds contain antioxidants. A diet that contains nuts on a regular basis will help repair the damage to our body caused by inflammation.
  3. Strawberries, Raspberries and blueberries are powerful weapons in fighting the damage age inflicts on our bodies. And, as an added bonus – oh so delicious!
  4. Onions and garlic have been thought to help our immune system and act similarly to pain medications like ibuprofen.
  5. Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and is thought to be instrumental in pain relief. Because ginger may interfere with certain prescription medications,check with your health care provider.

Exercise

Physical activity will help increase blood flow and nutrients to muscles. Just thirty minutes a day will go a long way in keeping us mobile and pain-free. Exercise will help our body produce more endorphins, which alleviate the discomfort caused by joint disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes a week of activity, including strength training, for senior adults. Low-impact activity is paramount. Aim for developing a regular routine that will strengthen your muscles, and bones. Try these low impact exercises on for size and see if any of them are a good fit for you.

  • Water aerobicsAerobic exercise can help increase muscle mass and bone density. Exercising in the water makes the movements easier, but no less effective. Join a class and see for yourself. This form of exercise helps increase bone density also goes a long way in helping with balance issues.
  • Dancing Yes, dancing! Sign up for ballroom dancing lessons. You may be surprised at how much fun you will have. Dancing increases your endurance, gives you greater flexibility and builds muscle and bone strength.
  • Yoga, Tai Chi and Pilates all focus on slow low-impact movements that help improve body alignment, reduce stress and develop better balance . Holding a position in yoga requires zeroing in on and working specific muscles. The more we practice the better we get and the stronger our muscles become. Increased muscle strength is directly proportional to decreased pain.
  • Walking has many health benefits. A regular walking routine will strengthen muscles and enhance our stability. This type of exercise increases our circulation and gives us greater range of motion. The more we walk the more flexible we become. Warming up by stretching is an important part of any exercise regimen. Check in with your healthcare provider for help determining the types of stretches that will benefit you the most.
  • Stationary bike The use of a stationary bike is quite suitable for folks with back problems. It is a workout with minimum spinal stress and jarring. The push and pull movements work the quadriceps as well as the hamstring muscles and strengthens the back. Stationary biking has proven to reduce the discomfort of chronic low back pain by releasing endorphins(our body’s natural pain reliever).

Sit up straight

It would seem that your mother was right when she would constantly remind you to “sit up straight”. Poor posture can negatively impact the spine by adding unnecessary strain that may eventually lead to pain. Practice good posture. Concentrate on keeping your back erect while sitting and standing. Take care when lifting objects. Keep your spine straight and lift with your leg muscles.

Physical therapists, chiropractors and certified trainers are knowledgeable professionals who can give you direction on developing a strong, straight and healthy posture. These experts are able to design a personalized routine that will go a long way in preventing back pain.

Take control of your weight.

If you improve your diet and begin a focused exercise program you are well on your way to managing your weight.

  • Eat more fresh colorful fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, and lean protein.
  • Practice portion control and remain mindful of the calorie count of all the foods you consume.
  • For that satisfying feeling of fullness, think fiber!
  • Don’t skip breakfast. Once again, mom was right – it is the most important meal of the day. If you start the day with a good meal, you will be less likely to overeat or splurge at lunch or dinner.
  • Don’t leave healthy eating to chance. Plan your meals. Make menus and never go grocery shopping without your list. Also, never go food shopping when you are hungry.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle and keep in balance. Looking good and feeling well is a do-able combination of a balanced diet, effective and regular exercise and making smart choices.

 

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