Degenerative disc disease is one of the most common problems in aging individuals, which affects the spine, causing shooting pain, discomfort, and inflammation. The problem develops over time as cushioned spinal discs lose volume and cause the vertebrae to push toward each other. Because it can affect anyone, it6 is best to implement these strategies so that your spinal discs stay healthy as you get older.
Take healthy foods:
When you eat to nourish your bones, the vertebrae stays healthier and support the spinal discs that rest between them. Important foods to add to your diet include leafy green, fish, nuts and dairy products.
Drink plenty of water everyday:
The degenerative process occurs in the spinal disc as these spongy structures lose their water content, so staying hydrated everyday will help the disc stay stronger. It also regulates your weight and takes the extra pressure off of your spine.
Build the muscle that supports your spine:
Muscles are more resilient to pressure from walking, bending, and twisting. Therefore, you should develop an exercise routine that includes flexibility, strength and stability training exercises to build muscles in your back and your core.
Lifting heavy objects correctly:
This involves holding the heavy object close to the body, engaging the large thigh and core (deep tummy) muscles and placing the object by pivoting the feet, not twisting the back or torso. Leaning over from the waist should be avoided.
Sitting and sleeping posture:
Sitting upright on a chair provides low back support and keeping a computer screen on eye level prevents DDD. Sleeping on a comfortable mattress with good supportive pillows can make the difference between waking up refreshed and waking up stiff and sore.
Changing position and stretches:
Just shifting body weight forward and backward while sitting along with mild stretches of the body is enough to prevent low back stiffness from setting in.
Usage of alcohol and smoking:
Alcohol consumption should be minimized as it decreases hydration which leads to disc degeneration earlier than age. Smoking- or any nicotine intake- should be eliminated, because it prevents the good oxygen flow needed to keep the spinal discs healthy.
Written by: Puneet Rehani
Neuro Physiotherapist, AktivHealth