Things To Avoid With Degenerative Disc Disease: Activities, Foods, Drinks!

Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) isn’t mainly a disease but a progressive disorder. This condition affects the intervertebral disc, particularly the soft cushiony section between the vertebrae of the spinal cord. DDD is a natural part of aging where the intervertebral disc undergoes wear and tear, losing the essential water content and becoming more flexible with time.

This disorder can manifest various symptoms and discomfort in the day-to-day lifestyle, majorly in all the functions related to the spine. Although dealing with DDD requires expert medical involvement, a range of lifestyle changes have an impact. Here’s a detailed overview of the same.

Activities to avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease

Individuals dealing with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) have to be mindful about their daily activities. Certain activities can aggravate the symptoms and potentially worsen this progressive condition. Here’s more about this topic Things to avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease, all the activities and habits to avoid

1) Prolonged Sitting

When dealing with DDD, extended sitting hours can put pressure on the spinal disc, increase pain, and worsen the disorder. Therefore, it is essential to take breaks in between while involving movement. If you are dealing with the said condition, make sure you:

  • Stand up, stretch, and move around every 30 minutes.
  • Perform neck rolls, shoulder stretches, seated leg lifts, and similar desk exercises.
  • Ensure your desk is ergonomically set up.
  • Use a standing desk.

2) Heavy Lifting

For individuals dealing with DDD, it is essential to be mindful of lifting heavy objects, in the gym or otherwise. Weight lifting is a high-impact activity that requires strong back muscles. However, it isn’t considered safe for those dealing with spine issues as the risk of poor form and lifting techniques is involved. Even when practicing it under expert guidance and in in a safe environment, be cautious about the loads/ weight how your hips and knees bend, and refrain from twisting while lifting.

3) High-impact Exercises

Just like heavy lifting, avoid any high-impact activity, particularly the ones that increase the strain on the spine. Avoid sports like football and basketball or regular fitness activities like running and gyming. Indulging in any of these or similar activities may send shock through your spine, worsening the DDD by making your discs work harder.

4) Twisting Movements

Twisting left and right without facing any difficulty is a sign of a healthy spine. However,, when dealing with conditions like Degenerative Disc Disease, it is advisable to refrain from twisting or rotating movements. When twisting, do not rely on your spine but move your entire body. Avoid yoga as well as regular twisting movements since most of the posture involves spinal cord twisting and turning around continuously.

5) Poor Posture

When dealing with DDD, your poor posture can strain your spine, increasing and worsening the symptoms related to this disorder. Poor posture can be a part of your daily basic lifestyle (sitting, standing, lying) or during sports or other activities. Incorrect postures lead our spine to unnatural curves, putting pressure on discs, particularly where it shouldn’t.

6) Sedentary Lifestyle

Moving your body wrongly can worsen the symptoms of DDD; however, not moving your body at all ‘Sedentary Lifestyle’ is not ideal either. Finding a perfect balance with gentle exercise and stretches is crucial to promote flexibility and strength. The key here is to listen to your body and make adjustments to what works best for you.

7) Repetitive Forward Bending

While indulging in daily household work or gardening, we often tend to bend our bodies forward too repeatedly. However, when dealing with DDD, bending forward may put undue pressure on the spine, especially discs. Instead, when trying to lean forward, bend at the hips instead of at the lower back. Also, try to maintain a natural spine position.

8) High-Heeled Shoes

Your high-heeled shoes may improve your aesthetics however, they are stressing your lower back and impacting your posture. Heels, particularly the ones over 2 inches, can alter the natural alignment of your spine, making your lower back arch more than normal. Not just that, but it may even increase the pressure on the lumbar spine, contributing to the pain and discomfort associated with DDD.

9) Smoking

Although not as a direct activity but smoking can have adverse effect on the spine, especially on disc degeneration. Not just that but smoking also restrict the blood flow to the discs and other sections of spine. Similarly, smoking may even hinder the delivering of nutrients to the discs thus making them more susceptible for degenerative or its related pain and symptoms.

Food And Drinks To Avoid

Although there’s no dietary choice that directly impact Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), however some choices can offer relief to the symptoms while contributing to overall spine health. For instance:

  • Limit inflammatory food items as they may increase the symptoms of DDD. Avoid or limit the intake of sugary snacks and processed food items.
  • Limit caffeine intake as excessive intake may lead to dehydration thus affecting the elasticity of intervertebral discs. Avoid alcohol as it may have the same impact.
  • Limit sodium intake since high-sodium diet can lead to water retention and may potentially increase pain and inflammation.
  • Some individuals may be sensitive to artificial additives (sweetners or preservatives) and may experience increased inflammation.
  • Highly acidic food items like tomatoes, lemon and citrus fruits may increase the pain related to DDD along with other symptoms.
  • Although more research is needed in this field but some studies suggest that excessive consumption of red meat may be associated with inflammation.


Overall as the summary of Things to avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease, managing lifestyle while dealing with Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD) requires a proactive and thoughtful approach. The discussion above explores a range of activities and dietary choices to avoid, particularly for managing symptoms of DDD and promoting spine health. It is crucial to understand the impact prolonged sitting hours, sedentary lifestyle, high-impact and heavy lifting exercising and thus altering your way to manage the discomfort.

While the above recommendations offers a holistic approach, for managing Degenerative Disc Disease (DDD), follow your healthcare experts’ advice. A tailored lifestyle plan along with appropriate medical intervention can lead to signigicant improvement.

FAQs Of Things to avoid with Degenerative Disc Disease

1. Can you live a normal life with degenerative disc disease?

Yes, it is possible to live a relatively normal life with degenerative disc disease through lifestyle modifications like avoiding prolonged sitting, high-impact activities, poor posture, etc. Taking breaks, gentle exercises, ergonomic setups, and listening to your body can help manage symptoms.

2. What foods should you avoid with degenerative disc disease?

Foods to avoid or limit include inflammatory foods, processed foods, sugary snacks, caffeine, alcohol, sodium, acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus fruits, and possibly red meat. Focus on anti-inflammatory foods, staying hydrated, and limiting irritants.

3. What is the best home treatment for degenerative disc disease?

The best home treatments include heat/ice therapy, gentle stretches and exercises, massage, yoga, ergonomic furniture and posture, losing weight if overweight, quitting smoking, and over-the-counter pain medication. Lifestyle modifications to reduce strain on the spine are also important.

4. Can you fully recover from degenerative disc disease?

No, degenerative disc disease is a progressive, age-related condition that cannot be fully reversed. However, with proper treatment and lifestyle changes, symptoms can be effectively managed in most cases. The goal is to slow progression, reduce pain, and retain mobility.

5. What is the future treatment for degenerative disc disease?

Some future treatments being researched include stem cell therapy to regenerate discs, new medications to target pain and inflammation, implanted devices to provide spinal support, and advances in minimally invasive spinal procedures. But more research is needed.

6. What is the final stage of degenerative disc disease?

The final stage is when the discs lose all elasticity and height, resulting in compressed nerves and possibly spinal stenosis. This can cause chronic severe pain, numbness, and lack of mobility. Surgery like spinal fusion may be required at this advanced stage.


  • MedlinePlus, NIH “Degenerative disc disease”: Link
  • Cleveland Clinic ” Degenerative Disk Disease”, Link
  • U.S. National Library of Medicine, NIH “Degenerative Lumbar Disc Disease, Link

Dr. Nicola Fawcet is a highly regarded Consultant in General Medicine known for her expertise in providing comprehensive medical care with a focus on holistic patient well-being. With a passion for internal medicine, Dr. Fawcet has dedicated her career to delivering high-quality healthcare and improving patient outcomes.

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