Using Water Therapy to Treat Degenerative Disc Disease in the Lower Back
Degenerative disc disease in the lower back (lumbar spine) is a relatively common cause of pain, so if you’ve recently been diagnosed with the condition, you are not alone. The condition develops as your intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers, lose water content over time and weaken. The loss of disc strength can lead to a reduction in disc height, as well as increase the chances that a disc will bulge or rupture. Your lumbar (lower) spine is susceptible to this wear and tear and eventual instability, as this area of the spine is responsible for supporting the weight of your upper body, as well as performing a wide range of directional movements throughout your lifetime. If you’re experiencing disc pain and/or nerve compression symptoms of numbness, tingling, shooting pain, and weakness as a result of degenerative disc disease, water therapy can be a helpful tool to relieve symptoms.
Benefits of Water Therapy
Treating your lower back pain with water-based exercises has several benefits, including:
- Buoyancy – When your body is in water, gravity is counteracted. Your weight is supported, relieving the load forces that normally affect your spine while standing, sitting, or lying down. Water also allows you to improve strength and balance as you perform a variety of exercises while virtually weightless, which otherwise might be difficult and painful to complete on land.
- Resistance – Moving through water provides unique muscle strengthening and conditioning opportunities due to the gentle resistance you will experience while submerged.
- No Impact – Exercises performed in water can also reduce the risk of further injury because you avoid the impact on your joints that would normally be experienced when exercising on land.
Additionally, the hydrostatic pressure produced when your body is in water helps to improve blood flow, as well as your heart and lung function.
Other Treatment Methods
Water therapy is only one of many conservative, or nonsurgical, treatment methods that your doctor may recommend for you if you’re dealing with degenerative disc disease in your lower back. Other treatments include non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), narcotic pain medications, hot/cold therapy, gentle stretching, and epidural steroid injections, among others. You’ll likely find pain relief after utilizing such treatment methods. Surgery is typically reserved as a final treatment option for patients who do not respond to several weeks or months of conservative treatments.
Guest Post written by LSI. LSI has written extensively on degenerative disc disease and related back pain for a number of back pain and back health websites.