Degenerative disc disease. It sounds ominous and progressive, something you won’t recover from, ever. Well, it isn’t really a disease and it’s not progressive in the symptomology. Degenerative disc disease is really a description of the symptoms. So if you hear you have it, don’t lose hope.
The symptoms include pain, weakness and numbness that stem from a disc that is degenerating. While the term that is used to describe it gives visions of symptoms that will worsen with age, it’s really the name for the actual problem with the disc. Believe it or not, even though the disc degeneration will get worse, the symptoms will actually get better given enough time, and with good treatment.
All spinal discs degenerate over time. It’s part of aging. The difference is that not everyone has pain and numbness. Those that do will have symptoms like pain that flares up but then improves. Some people do have chronic pain from it, but that can vary from simple aggravation to severe pain. Those who have episodes of pain will have them for a few days to a few months and then it returns to their pain baseline (none, irritation or low level pain).
How you sit can affect the level of pain. Bending, lifting and twisting can make it worse. Walking, jogging or running can actually improve symptoms, as does changing positions frequently.
It can also be improved with physical therapy. Physical therapy can do several things. First, it will teach you better ways to sit, stand and work to take the pressure from the back. It will also help strengthen the musculature around the discs. There are other benefits and you should discuss them with your doctor.
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