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YOUR DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE GUIDE

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Your care guide's focus is on practical strategies to reduce pain, improve function, and promote joint recovery.

 

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OVERVIEW

This care guide and related information is educational in nature. Always consult with a medical professional prior to initiating new exercises or trying a new product, drug, or supplement.

 

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YOUR STRATEGY

Clinical Evidence: Strong
First you need to understand our main objective: Promoting gentle, frequent movements to regain range of motion, improve mobility, and promote disc health. PROTECT BUT MOVE Research has clearly shown prolonged sitting and inactivity slow your recovery. Remaining mobile is critical. Avoid bending, lifting, and twisting movements if possible. Try not to sit for more than 20 minutes maximum without getting up and moving around. Sitting places the greatest amount of stress on your low back discs and inhibits healing. Even if it is just a walk around the work desk a few times each hour - it helps! WALKING Short, frequent episodes of walking have been found to be one of the best treatments for lower back pain. Walking is the most natural way to gently mobilize your lower back discs. This promotes circulation, stimulates healing, and decreases pain. It is almost impossible to over-stress the importance of walking frequently and regularly to help fix your low back pain. PRACTICAL TIPS Once again, short and frequent walks are the key. The longer you sit, the tighter your lower back joints will become, and the more painful it will be to walk. This will lead to a cycle of less walking, more sitting, and a slower recovery. Break the cycle! Set an alarm on your phone for 20 minutes and walk for just a minute or two. This simple strategy could be the difference in a failed or successful recovery.

YOUR EXERCISES

Clinical Evidence: Strong

Begin a targeted degenerative disc disease exercise program. We have given you a head start with an exercise program at the bottom of this care guide. Your symptom profile did not indicate a clear movement pattern. We have generated a program with this in mind. Perform your exercises at least two times a day when possible (3-4 is even better.) You can cycle down as the pain diminishes. Our goal is developing a simple set of exercises you can turn to whenever low back disc pain occurs.

ICE VS HEAT

Clinical Evidence: Fair

There is little evidence supporting the use of ice therapy for degenerative disc pain. Heat therapy may be more beneficial as a tool to reduce muscle soreness.

MEDICATIONS

Clinical Evidence: Good

The evidence on medications for lower back pain is mixed and complicated. See our medication review page for a full analysis of your options. Learn More

PAIN TOOLS

Let's be clear - therapeutic exercise and activity modification are your best bet. But everyone asks us about these joint tools and "if they work." To be honest, it's a tricky question. Results vary significantly person-to-person, and supporting evidence varies product-to-product.

 

Still, our users want answers and we want to give the best ones possible. So, we did a full clinical review on each product-class, and prioritized based on current strength of evidence. We were surprised by some of the findings.

 

MASSAGE GUNS

Clinical Evidence: Good

Percussive massage devices use rapid, repetitive strokes to target deep muscle tissue. Evidence shows support for both pain reduction and improved flexibility.

Massage Gun Evidence & Review

BACK BRACES

Clinical Evidence: Fair

The right back brace can add support and help manage pain. Just remember its main use is to promote movement and exercise tolerance.

Back Brace Evidence & Review

E-STIM UNITS

Clinical Evidence: Fair

E-stim units are a drug-free, pain relief option. New models allow for easy home use. AMP technology may reduce the risk of developing tolerance.

E-Stim Evidence & Review

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PROVEN CARE

(When You Just Need More)

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Back care is often severely delayed due to the barriers of time, travel, and cost. These delays can have life-long consequences on recovery - also known as a lot of unnecessary pain. To overcome this challenge, new options have become available that bring evidence-based care to you. No prescription required.

HANDS-ON CARE, BROUGHT TO YOU

Confirm your condition, review exercises, and get hands-on care. An expert Physical Therapist will evaluate your back in person, at home or work. Insurance accepted. Same cost as in a clinic, no prescription required. We love this. Learn More

100% VIRTUAL BACK PAIN CARE

The next generation of joint care is here. Built for ease of use and accessibility. Access to a licensed physical therapist on your phone or laptop. Motion-sensing technology. Covered through insurance or employer benefits. We review your options. Learn More

WHAT TO EXPECT

A conservative strategy of exercise and activity modification should lead to noticeable improvement within a few days. Other interventions, such as heat therapy, bracing, massage etc. can sometimes provide more immediate relief. This will be highly variable between individuals. KEY POINT This is a degenerative condition and requires long-term management. However, there is good news as well: data suggests that by understanding the key principles of back pain recovery and taking the proper actions when pain occurs, individuals can maintain a high activity level with the least amount of pain possible. Once again, if you have any doubts, questions, or concerns about your condition, we highly recommend speaking with a joint specialist (new access options below.)
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YOUR EXERCISES

Selected based on your condition match and care profile

Stretches

Hold for 45-60 seconds

1-2 repetitions per session

Perform on each side

Strengthening

10-15 repetitions per set

1 set per session

Perform on each side

 - Consult with a physician prior to trying new exercises -

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HAMSTRINGS STRETCH

The hamstrings are located on the back of your knee(s). Tight hamstrings place excessive strain on the pelvis and lower back, increasing pressure and pain in the discs.

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PIRIFORMIS STRETCH

This muscle is buried deep in your buttocks and often "locks up" with low back pain. Stretching it can instantly reduce back and buttock pain.

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HIP FLEXOR STRETCH

Tight hip flexors (psoas muscles) attach to the inner pelvis and lower back. They are common causes of back pressure and pain.

BRIDGING

This exercise strengthens your core muscles while also actively stretching the hip flexors. Take care to not arch your back.

CLAMSHELLS

The gluteus medius is located on the outer hip. Strengthening this muscle is key to reducing strain on the low back discs.

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