March 26th, 2015

In an earlier blog post we discussed the onset of Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) and how it limits our daily function. Today we will feature common interventions used in physical therapy to address these limitations.

How can Physical Therapy treat DDD?

The following is taken from the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) to shine light on commonly used Physical Therapy programs:1

  • Stretching and flexibility exercises to improve mobility in the joints and muscles of your spine and your extremities—improving motion in a joint is often the key to pain relief
  • Strengthening exercises—strong trunk muscles provide support for your spinal joints, and strong arm and leg muscles help take some of the workload off your spinal joints
  • Aerobic exercise, which has been shown to be helpful in relieving pain, promoting a healthy body weight, and improving overall strength and mobility—all important factors in managing DDD
  • Manual Therapy techniques provided directly by physical therapist’s hands to improve joint mobility and decrease pain
  • Aquatic activities to decrease compressive forces and maintain cardiovascular endurance and strength.

Physical Therapy or Surgery?

A recent study conducted at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital1 found that “patients with back pain and concordant discography did not demonstrate a significant difference in outcome measures of pain, health status, satisfaction, or disability based on whether the patient elected for fusion or non-operative treatment.” Based on the available research, physical therapy appears to be a wise first choice for conservative treatment, considering in most cases surgery does not yield betteroutcomes.

Stay healthy,

Cole Racich, PT, DPT