Sooner or later, all of us will experience the symptoms of degenerative disc disease (DDD). DDD is less of a disease and more of a natural wearing down of the discs in your vertebrae, including those in your neck. These discs are supposed to cushion the vertebrae from friction and impact shock. However, as they naturally grow more thin and stiff over time, they’re less able to accomplish these tasks.
DDD affects everyone differently. Some people never notice the symptoms of DDD, while others have pain and stiffness that develops in their middle years and gets worse over time. If you’re one of the ones who does suffer from chronic pain and stiffness related to DDD in your neck, try some of the following tips to help improve your quality of life.
Four tips for living with degenerative disc disease in the neck
- Rearrange your home — Objects that are stored high up or low to the ground can be difficult to reach when you have DDD in the neck. Rearrange your home so that the items you use most frequently in your daily life are easy to access. If the pain of your current condition is too severe to make these arrangements yourself, ask a friend or family member for assistance.
- Drink more water — Water helps form the fluid in your discs that keeps them soft and flexible. Drinking water won’t reverse the effects of DDD, but it can help reduce the pain.
- Change your eating habits — DDD can cause irritation and inflammation in the spine. Switching to an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce pain and other symptoms caused by inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet should include lean meats, unsaturated fats, fruits, and vegetables. Talk to your doctor or a nutrition professional for specifics regarding your personal diet.
- Exercise — Stretching and exercising help build the strength and flexibility of the muscles and soft tissue in your neck. This helps reduce pain caused by DDD because strong and flexible muscles provide better support for the spine and reduce pressure off the vertebrae.
Treating DDD with surgery
Despite your best efforts, these tips may not be effective in reducing your pain as much as you would like. If you try following these tips for some time and still suffer from DDD pain in your neck, you may want to consider surgery.
Procedures like spinal fusion or a microdiscectomy can help reduce pain in the spine and improve its structural support. While surgery may not always be the first choice, sometimes it’s just what you need to improve your quality of life with DDD in your neck.
Visit the iRISE Spine and Joint Institute for treatment of DDD in your neck
Is the pain from DDD in the neck making it difficult for you to enjoy your daily life? Our orthopedic surgeons at the Florida Spine and Joint Institute are here to help. Contact our team today for more information about DDD treatment or to schedule an initial appointment.