A Holistic Approach To Health
Living With Degenerative Disc Disease
I had a question the other day about degenerative disc disease.
Degenerative disc disease isn’t really a disease but a term used to describe the normal changes in your spinal discs as you age.
Spinal discs are soft, compressible discs separating the interlocking bones (vertebrae) making up your spine.
The discs act as shock absorbers for your spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist.
Degenerative disc disease can take place throughout your spine, but it usually happens in the discs in your lower back (lumbar region) and your neck (cervical region).
The changes in your discs can result in back or neck pain and/or:
>Osteoarthritis, the breakdown of tissue protecting and cushioning joints.
>Herniated disc, an abnormal bulge or breaking open of a spinal disc.
>Spinal stenosis, the narrowing of your spinal canal, the open space in your spine holding your spinal cord.
These conditions may put pressure on your spinal cord and nerves, leading to pain and possibly affecting nerve function.
As we age, our spinal discs break down, or degenerate, which may result in degenerative disc disease in some people.
These age-related changes include:
>The loss of fluid in your discs, which reduces the ability of your discs to act as shock absorbers and makes them less flexible.
>Tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of your disc.
These changes are more likely to happen in people who smoke cigarettes and those who do heavy physical work.
People who are obese are also more likely to have symptoms of degenerative disc disease.
A sudden injury leading to a herniated disc (like a fall) may also begin the degeneration process.
As the space between your vertebrae gets smaller, there’s less padding between them, and your spine becomes less stable.
Your body reacts to this by constructing bony growths called bone spurs.
Bone spurs can put pressure on your spinal nerve roots or spinal cord, resulting in pain and affecting nerve function.
Degenerative disc disease may result in back or neck pain, but this varies from person to person.
Many people have no pain, while others with the same amount of disc damage have severe pain limiting their activities.
Where the pain occurs depends on the location of the affected disc.
An affected disc in your neck area may result in neck or arm pain, while an affected disc in your lower back may result in pain in your back, buttock, or leg.
The pain often gets worse with movements like bending over, reaching up, or twisting.
The pain may start after a major injury (like from a car accident), a minor injury (like a fall from a low height), or a normal motion (like bending over to pick something up).
It may also start gradually for no known reason and get worse over time.
To deal with degenerative disc disease it’s beneficial to:
*Increase weight-bearing exercises
*Lose weight to take some pressure off your joints; you can follow my weight loss blog at blog.dickandlenay.com.
*Eat calcium-rich foods.
*Take natural supplements.
*Get plenty of vitamin D.
*Eat fresh (not canned) pineapple and/or papaya because they contain enzymes that reduce inflammation.
*Explore the use of Arnica (homeopathic remedy).
*Consider Horsetail (herb) tea or extract.
*Eliminate acid-forming food and drinks (coffee, soda pop, dairy, red meat, processed foods, sugar, white flour products)
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