Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative Discs Are Reversible
Degenerative Disc Disease is the deterioration of the fragile and thin cartilage between the vertebrae of the spine. Degeneration of the disc, medically referred to as spondylosis, can be noted on x ray tests by the narrowing of the normal disc space between adjacent vertebrae, thereby causing pain (from mild to severe depending on the amount of degeneration) by the rubbing or touching of the vertebrae bones. This loss of cartilage can be caused by loss of water in the cartilage and usually, but not always, occurs with aging.
However, degenerative discs are reversible. You will probably not hear that from your health care professional. When degenerative discs are detected, the doctors immediately prescribe pain medication and cortisone to reduce the inflammation. However, continued use of cortisone has many serious side effects such as increased appetite and weight gain, water and salt retention, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, cataracts, and/or stomach ulcers, just to name a few.
The next step following the cortisone is spinal fusion. The goal of spinal fusion is to eliminate the motion of the vertebrae at a spinal segment, thus reducing pain caused by the motion. This is done by one of two ways, either by using metallic screws and rods/plates or inter-body cages to immobilize the spine, which can loosen, break or pull out of the bone. Plus, more pain could result if the operation is unsuccessful; thereby leading to additional procedures and subsequent pressure placed on the neighboring discs, and the progression is repeated.
I suffered from degenerative discs and through exercise was able to reverse it. The bones that were degenerative were at my waist and developed because I did not have curvature in my lower spine, thereby making the cartilage between the bones in the lumbar region degenerate. By exercising to open up the degenerative discs, I was able to build up the discs and even lost one-half inch in height because the curvature was put back into my spine. By working with my chiropractor on a regular basis to keep my spinal cord aligned and in correct adjustment, exercising my back by specific exercises targeting the area of disc degeneration, and wearing either a back belt and/or using special seat cushions and pillows, the degenerating discs were reversed.
The exercise the worked for me because of the specific area of my spine (the lumbar area) that degenerated was the yoga cobra pose. This exercise is great for people with lower back pain and decreases stiffness in the lower back, enlarges the chest and strengthens the arms and shoulders.
To perform the cobra pose:
Step 1: Lie on your belly while your head rests on your lower arms.
Step 2: Raise your forehead, look upwards and stretch your hands backwards. Let your weight rest on your chest.
Step 3: The head falls a little backwards towards your back and the backward movement proceeds from the neck and the chin. Move your belly further backward as if someone is pulling your arms. The weight is more and more shifted towards the belly and the lower back does the real work.
This exercise opens up the space between the vertebrae, thereby building up the cartilage between the discs. Also, drink a lot of water to hydrate the body, but more specifically the cartilage.
This exercise only works for the degenerative disks that degenerated at the front of the spine (facing forward). For exercising different types of degenerative discs, the recommendation would be to exercise in order to open up the side that lost the cartilage.
The reversal of the degenerative discs does not happen overnight, but takes time and consistency. However, the result is pain free with no adverse side effects.
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