If you have degenerative disc disease (DDD), you know the all-too familiar feeling: Back pain or neck pain when you sit or stand for long periods of time. But what can you do to help manage the pain? You're in luck—there are multiple treatment options for DDD. Your treatment plan will most likely include a combination of treatments, such as exercise, physical therapy, and medications.
Walk and Stretch for Back Health
Physical therapy and exercise are an important part of a DDD treatment plan. Your doctor can recommend a physical therapist who can teach you specific exercises to help you manage DDD.
Don't have a current exercise plan? Then start slow—for example, take a walk and do some gentle stretches. Before beginning an exercise plan, talk to your doctor.
Acupuncture and Herbal Remedies
You may want to try alternative treatments for DDD, but first get the clear from your doctor. Alternative treatments can help you cope with back pain and help you increase your daily activities, but they may interact with other treatments for DDD.
Examples of alternative treatments for DDD:
AcupunctureBiofeedbackHerbal remedies (eg, devil's claw and white willow bark)
Should You Try Spinal Manipulation?
A visit to the chiropractor can help return or maintain motion in your spine. There are numerous chiropractic techniques, but spinal adjustment is one of the more common ones. You may need a series of chiropractic appointments to help treat your DDD, and your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan for you.
Before trying spinal manipulation or any other chiropractic technique, your doctor will confirm you have DDD and that your spine is stable.
NSAIDs, Anti-depressants, and Other Medications
There are multiple medications available to help you address your DDD symptoms. Your doctor will let you know which medications to try as well as when and how often to take them.
Here's a list of some commonly used medications for DDD:
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (eg, aspirin)
Acetaminophen (eg, Tylenol)
Usually the Last Resort
Most people with DDD won't need surgery. But how do you know if you'll need it? If you've tried non-surgical treatments for several months and they haven't reduced your pain and other DDD symptoms, you may need spine surgery. Your doctor will walk you through your surgery options.
Be on the lookout for serious symptoms, such as numbness, tingling, and loss of bowel and bladder control. If you notice these symptoms, call your doctor right away.