Degenerative Disc Disease: What You Should Know

Written by Leon Mao
Physiotherapist, University of Melbourne
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 15, 2022

Man holding his lower back in pain

What is degenerative disc disease?

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) is osteoarthritis of the spine. For many, it occurs naturally as part of the aging process.

DDD happens when the spinal discs cushion the vertebrae lose their thickness and degenerate over time. Damaged spinal discs can cause back or neck pain, hindering your daily activities.

What to do when you have degenerative disc disease?

Fortunately, DDD can be manageable and rarely requires surgery. There are many things you could do to decrease DDD symptoms and live a healthy and active life.

Lifestyle modifications such as regular strengthening and flexibility exercises can improve your spinal health and prevent complications of DDD.

Physiotherapy for degenerative disc disease

Physiotherapy provides pain relief without relying on medical drugs. Physiotherapists are pain and movement specialists that deal with various spinal conditions. A physio can help you minimise the impact of DDD in your life through specific exercise and lifestyle strategies.

Physical Activities

Gentle exercises and physical activities are recommended to keep you active and improve the mobility of your spine.

Try these activities:

  • Walking

  • Yoga

  • Pool Activities

  • Low-impact aerobic exercises

If you can’t tolerate exercises, you must consult a physiotherapist to assess your condition and give you appropriate treatment.


Having DDD can be frustrating, but there are many things you can do to stay active and healthy. Know that your body is more robust than you think. Through exercise and activity modification, you can get better and stay healthy.

Written by Leon Mao
Physiotherapist, University of Melbourne
Published on July 15, 2022
Medically reviewed by Dr Gina Arena
Research Fellow, University of Western Australia
Reviewed on July 15, 2022
Medical reviewers
Last medically reviewed on July 15, 2022 has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.
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