Degenerative disc disease can cause a wide range of symptoms, the most common of which is lower back pain. Other symptoms can include neck pain, tingling or numbness in the extremities or pain in the buttocks, arms and hands.
If you have any of the distinctive symptoms of the condition, a doctor will first do a thorough diagnosis to rule out any other conditions. After a diagnosis of degenerative disc disease is confirmed, in most cases the doctor will prescribe some kind of non-invasive, conservative treatment to manage the pain and improve mobility and flexibility.
Common Conservative Treatments
Conservative treatments are usually non-invasive, which means there is no surgery involved.
Managing the back pain and the other symptoms is done with a combination of medication and physiotherapy. Doctors often prescribe steroid medications to reduce the inflammation and soothe the pain. In most cases, the steroid medications are administered orally. This helps to provide immediate relief from the painful inflammation.
When recommending any conservative treatments for this condition, the main goal is to avoid aggravating any of the symptoms. This may include measures such as avoiding heavy loads and any types of vigorous exercises. You may also need to change your sleep posture to avoid putting pressure on the lower back.
Depending on the type of work you do, the doctor may also make recommendations for what changes you can make to your working space to make it more ergonomic. Making sure that your work table and chair are at the right height and also adjusting the angle of the computer monitor and using the right size mouse are all little things that can help.
Physiotherapy and exercises are usually recommended for longer term management of back pain and other symptoms. This would include back strengthening exercises, low impact aerobic conditioning and hamstring exercises.
The primary symptom of degenerative disc disease is back pain. However, back pain could also be a symptom of several other conditions so a thorough testing is necessary in order to determine whether or not the pain is due to degenerative disc disease. The prescribed treatment depends on the type and severity of the symptoms.
Heat and ice therapy and medications also help in the conservative treatment of the condition.
Is Non-Conservative Treatment A Good Option?
Non-conservative treatments or invasive surgery is never considered as the first option. It is usually used as a last option and only if none of the conservative methods work or if the symptoms are so severe that they prevent the person from performing their everyday activities.