Degenerative Disc Disease: Neck Exercises and Stretches


A routine exercise is almost always a core component of any degenerative disc disease treatment program.

Spinal movement and exercise deliver several significant benefits, including pain reduction, delivering several nutrients to the spine to nourish discs, muscles, ligaments, and joints, and developing the strength to support the spine.

The primary goals of physical therapy are two-fold:

  1. To reduce the severity of low back pain and attendant leg pain

  2. To minimize the severity and duration of pain flare-ups that are common with this condition

Physical therapy programs are best done as a steady, gradual, and progressive series of exercises. Water therapy may be recommended for those who cannot participate in active treatments due to severe pain.

Lower back pain exercises regimens vary widely, depending on the patient’s diagnosis and level of pain.

A physical therapist’s overall aim is to help you continue to participate in your daily activities and life roles and design a treatment program based on the evaluation findings and your personal goals. The treatment program may include:

Stretching and flexibility exercises: This includes specific activities to improve movement in the joints and muscles of your spine, arms, and legs. Enhancing motion in a joint is often the key to pain relief.

Strengthening exercises: Strong trunk muscles support your spinal joints, and strong arm and leg muscles help take some workloads off your spinal joints.

Aerobic exercises: Regular aerobic exercises and swimming, regular walking, or low-impact aerobic classes can help relieve pain, promote healthy body weight, and improve overall strength and mobility- all crucial factors in managing DDD.

This might sound like many exercises, but research shows that the more you exercise, the sooner you’ll get rid of your pain and other symptoms.

Your treatment program may also include:

Manual therapy: Your physical therapist may apply manual (hands-on) therapy, such as massage, to improve movement in stiff joints and tight muscles that may be contributing to your symptoms.

Posture and body mechanics education: Your physical therapist may show you how to make small changes in how you sit, stand, bend, and lift- even in how you sleep- to help relieve your pain and help you manage your condition on your own.

Note: Studies show that neck and lower back pain recurrence is common when a condition such as DDD is not treated correctly. Regular practice of your physical therapist’s exercises is essential to ensure your pain does not return.


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