Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
What is Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
There are five intervertebral discs between the bones (vertebrae) in your lower back (lumbar spine).
Intervertebral discs are tough and fibrous, acting as shock absorbers for your spine and allowing your back the flexibility to bend and twist.
Lumbar degenerative disc disease occurs when those discs wear down, lose hydration (fluid) and elasticity, causing pain and discomfort.
Sometimes tiny cracks and tears can appear in the discs. They can also collapse or become inflamed.
What Causes Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Although the cause of lumbar degenerative disc disease is unknown, it seems to be associated with aging as your intervertebral discs degenerate naturally due to regular wear and tear.
Risk factors that increase your likelihood of developing it include:
- Increasing age
- Trauma or injury to your back
- Repetitive strain to your back, such as a job requiring frequent heavy lifting
- Being overweight
- Prolonged sitting and inactivity
- Poor posture
- Musculoskeletal imbalance, such as scoliosis
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Everyone experiences some level of degeneration in their intervertebral discs over time, but not everyone will experience symptoms.
If they do, symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease typically include:
- Dull pain in the neck
- Stabbing pain after strenuous activity or strain on the neck
- Increased pain with movement, such as turning or bending your neck down
- Difficulty moving and decreased range of motion
- Muscle tension or spasms
- A sharp, stabbing pain or weakness and tingling that radiates down into the shoulders, arms or hands, known as cervical radiculopathy
How is Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Treated?
Mild lumbar degenerative disc disease can be treated at home or in a clinical setting.
To get pain under control, you can:
- Rest your back
- Apply heat and cold therapy
- Avoid activities that cause pain or put stress on your back
- If needed, take anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Advil or Aleve
Moderate to severe levels of lumbar degenerative disc disease should be treated in a clinical setting.
Physiotherapy for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease
Physiotherapy is a drug-free and non-surgical treatment that focuses on reducing pain, regaining strength, and increasing joint mobility, function, and quality of life.
At pt Health, you’ll receive a thorough assessment which addresses the source of your problem.
Depending on the cause and severity of your lumbar degenerative disc disease, physiotherapy treatment can include:
- Strengthening and range of motion exercises
- Personalized exercise plan
- Active stretching
- Functional retraining and activity modification
- Patient education
- Cross-disciplinary pain-relieving therapies such as:
Can Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Go Away on Its Own?
Yes, mild cases of lumbar degenerative disc disease can resolve itself after home treatment.
However, pain is likely to reoccur without ongoing activity modification or proper exercise.
You may want to consult a physiotherapist for a custom treatment plan to address your unique concerns.
Can You Prevent Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degeneration of your intervertebral discs is a natural part of aging, but you can take the following steps to avoid it becoming painful:
- Exercise regularly, including stretching (regular exercise increases the flow of nutrients and blood to the spine and decreases pressure on the intervertebral discs)
- Avoid staying in one position for too long
- Practice good posture
- Maintain a healthy weight (which reduces stress on the facet joints in the spine)
- Eat a non-inflammatory diet (avoid sugar, and processed and refined foods)
- Drink plenty of water
- Quit smoking
Book a Physiotherapist Consult for Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Today
Concerned about symptoms of lumbar degenerative disc disease? Book an assessment with a physiotherapist today.