Health Blog

Living with Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease

Are you trying to live with the pain of lumbar degenerative disc disease? As the aging process advances, the discs in most people’s spines undergo a degeneration process that will cause a varied loss of strength and mobility. During adolescence, discs receive nutrition from the body’s blood supply. This process concludes once adulthood is attained. During adulthood, by osmosis, nutrition is absorbed into the disc from each of its neighboring vertebrae. As the body continues to age, the process of the disc taking in more fluid is reduced. That’s when the trouble begins.

Eventually, vertebrae cease to provide nutrition to the disc which transforms from a nice soft pliable substance to a more hardened and fibrous character. Through the years, the disc slowly begins to flatten out. The process of a disc becoming more fibrous is what is known as degenerative disc disease and it could happen anywhere from your lower back to your neck.

The spine consists of twenty-four moving vertebrae stacked on top of each other. The vertebrae share this space with a pair of joints that move at each level. The disc is soft and pliable and acts as a shock absorber between vertebrae which allows the joints and spine flexibility.

This is when it starts…

Some type of disc degeneration begins sometime between the age of 30 and 50. Pain usually shows up in the lower back and feels like someone stuck a red-hot flaming sword in your hip. The agony slowly finds its way down through your leg, and may even cause some numbing in your ankle or foot. Flare-ups may only last a few days, diminish and disappear. You may wonder what the big deal was and head to the slopes for a weekend of skiing.

As a disc continues to lose its height, it may protrude slightly away from the back of the spine and push against sensitive nerve roots. The end result is a herniated disc. Sometimes known as a protruding or bulging disc. All three terms accurately describe the condition.

It is this constant nagging assault on the nerve endings that causes the painful sensations to run down through your leg. Pain running from the hip area, down the leg to the ankle and foot is referred to as sciatica. If sciatica is persistent and the only way you can manage it is with pain medication, it’s time to see an orthopedic surgeon for a medical evaluation.

Now check this out, studies have shown that if we were to take a sample of 100 people over the age of 50, and give them all an MRI or a CT Scan, 85 of them would show some type of degenerative disk disease. So, in that sense, a disc that is losing its flexibility is not really a disease at all but a condition of aging.

Is surgery necessary?

You’ll be happy to know that surgery is the last resort for lumbar DDD. In fact, your surgeon is probably the last person you will see in the chain of command. Surgery is only considered after all other options have been excluded. Only 5-10% of those who are diagnosed with degenerative disc disease need surgery.  The composition of the disc can never be reversed but the environment surrounding the disc can be helped to slow down the deterioration and relieve the searing pain.

What can a PT do?

At some point in this process, you will see a physical therapist. The challenge of therapy is to treat the muscles and ligaments surrounding the disk, with the goal of decreasing pain and increasing mobility. An accurate assessment of your condition will determine which muscles are bound and which muscles are weak. This data is extremely important for several reasons. Your physical therapist will work to develop the best treatment plan that will meet the challenge of reintroducing flexibility into your muscles and ligaments. It provides physical therapist with a way for which treatment is prescribed. With access to your data, your physical therapist will generate a program unique to your condition.

Now, if you didn’t read anything else in this article, pleased consider the following advice as it is not only based on sound research but personal experience as well. The success of your healing is all up to you. If you have 3 physical therapy sessions a week, then you need to attend all three. Your physical therapist will reduce the number of sessions as your condition improves. When your physical therapist compassionately explains that you need to do your physical therapy exercises two times every day, then you need to do them two times a day. Especially when or if surgery is involved. Still, yet, it begs to wonder if surgery would ever have been needed if some form of physical therapy had been introduced early on. Strengthening the muscles and ligaments that support the spine often provide much-needed relief from pain. Your physical therapist will teach you stretching exercises specific to the affected area. You will also learn core-strengthening exercises. Core muscles are strengthened. Through massage and manipulation, irritated nerve endings begin to calm down. Tissue inflammation will have a chance to cool down also.

Knowledge and experience offer you the power and tools to successfully navigate your way to a pain-free lifestyle. But your healing is conditioned on whether or not you follow the advice of your physical therapist.

Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop

If you want more information, you may attend one of our upcoming Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop near you.

During the workshop, we discuss the Top 3 Most Common Causes of Back Pain and Sciatica, and how you can naturally heal without medications, injections, or surgery.

Click here for the Valparaiso Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

Click here for the Crown Point Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

Click here for the LaPorte Lower Back Pain and Sciatica Workshop.

To your healthy back,

Arlan Alburo

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Our Reviews
Timothy Knopf
Timothy Knopf
20:18 30 Oct 19
Best therapy place around. I would recommend this place to everyone. They have the best group of therapists around.
Mitchell Udowitz
Mitchell Udowitz
20:43 27 Oct 19
I have been to two Physical Therapy places prior to finding Orthopedic & Balance Therapy in Valparaiso. While they were ok they don’t hold a candle to Orthopedic & Balance Therapy. OBT team works as one in harmony and they stay on top of the latest technology for their patients. Their team is so very knowledgeable and very friendly plus they generally care about what they are doing and it shows. They are concerned about the whole person not just the injury they need to be treated for.
Barbara Serynek
Barbara Serynek
18:52 03 Oct 19
The entire staff has been very pleasant, professional and accommodating. Both Kristen and Joe have given me the best massages. Kate and Kollin made sure that I was doing my excercises and helped to move things along. Feeling better every visit. I'm so glad that I chose Orthopedic & Balance.
Heidi Richardson
Heidi Richardson
17:00 19 Sep 19
I went to physical therapy not expecting it to do very much to help because that’s the way I approach everything with low expectations. Noel and his team have made my neck feel so much better that it puts me in a more positive mood each day and I actually feel more positive and more productive on a day-to-day basis..
Christine O'Donnell
Christine O'Donnell
16:26 14 Aug 19
I could barely walk into OBTS six weeks ago. I had very bad lower back and hip pain. The progress has been life changing for me. I always walk out of there with little or no pain. The staff, Laura, Dr Diane, Angie and, of course, Peggy, have taught me so much to keep my pain at bay. I highly recommend this team.
Nancy Guenther
Nancy Guenther
15:28 12 Jul 19
Absolutely awesome! My walking has improved 110%. And my pain level is zero. I highly recommend them. Go....you will be amazed how much better you feel.
Tracie Baxter
Tracie Baxter
20:24 03 Jul 19
This was the only place that could help with my TMJ. If you’re suffering from TMJ go see Noel! He really understands the condition. I no long have to deal with constant pain! The whole staff at this office is amazing and very welcoming.
Cindy Standiford
Cindy Standiford
21:33 28 Jun 19
The whole team is great!! I’m getting great care! I recommend Orthopedic & Balance for any issues you might have.
Joseph Mulholland
Joseph Mulholland
19:53 09 May 19
Amazing staff and amazing care. I came in barely able to stand up straight due to a back injury. After 6 weeks, I feel like brand new. Everyone was extremely helpful and easy to work with. Highly recommended!
Trool u
Trool u
19:44 24 Apr 19
I am a PTA student that was required 16 hours of observation time. I had the pleasure of completing my hours at this Valpo location. The staff is incredibly friendly. They were quick to make me feel at home. In a way I was sad to leave, but happy to continue on. I hope to eventually work in this field with a work family this caring and knowledgeable about their profession.
sharon Kramer
sharon Kramer
16:23 18 Apr 19
My experience has been a very enjoyable and rewarding experience in getting me to feeling better. The staff does a remarkable job and are fully qualified in their respective areas. The staff made it fun coming here and they were very caring and helpful with their clients!!
Tim Nash
Tim Nash
15:32 27 Aug 18
My first experience with OBTS was very positive. During the course of my 13 therapy sessions I worked with many different therapists and all of them were professional and competent. They were able to help me effectively control my pain without medication using their therapy program. Unfortunately, they could not get my physical condition back to the same ability as before. However, this is due to the fact that it was later determined by my doctors that I required surgery. I plan on returning to OBTS for my post-op physical therapy and have already scheduled my evaluation appointment. Scheduling seems to be a challenge sometimes but that's probably an indication of their patient's satisfaction and good reviews. Thank you OBTS!
Arlene Gross
Arlene Gross
15:58 22 Jun 18
Everyone that worked with me was helpful. I enjoyed watching the staff interact as they worked as they laughed and smiled making me feel that it was fun to exercise. My knee pain is less and I look forward to having the same results with my back.
Jose Ico
Jose Ico
12:43 27 Apr 18
My wife and I have been coming here for a year. They have wonderful customer service and the treatments were great. I could say that since coming here for treatments, I am now able to walk properly and sleep well at nights. They help you in the best way possible. The people here are great and we definitely recommend it to everyone!
Paul Grant
Paul Grant
21:51 03 Apr 18
I have read lots of reviews that say "the entire staff of ..." is great, and you know that it is BS.. .. Butt at OBTS that statement is true. The person answering the phone, appointment setting they work around my schedule. It is truly a team concept. Everyone that has work with/on me keeps me focus on getting healthy to play golf.... Even those employees that haven't work with/on me are upbeat, positive and encouraging both their patients and me..... follow up phone calls, positive, hand written notes of encouragement, reminding me to do my homework so I can play golf this year. Great Employees, Great Business!.
Diane Burns
Diane Burns
02:30 16 Mar 18
I’ve had an incredible experience here at OBTS. In just two and half weeks I’ve seen and felt remarkable results. My hip mobility has improved by 30%. I credit the excellent physical therapists and the deep tissue laser therapy for my gains. I’ve gone from walking with a limp and pain everyday to walking normally and know that I’ll be back to running in the future. Every single person is warm and friendly here. Great place!
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