Common treatments for degenerative disc disease include pain medication, chiropractic manipulation, epidural injections, transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy, ultrasound and massage, according to Spine Health. These treatments may be recommended individually or in combination with one another.
The goals of managing degenerative disc disease include achieving pain relief so that the patient can exercise and participate in rehabilitation, prevent excess stress on the back through proper posture and ergonomics and maintaining the ability for the patient to function at home and at work.
Pain medications used to treat degenerative disc disease include narcotic pain medications, acetaminophen and muscle relaxers. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are sometimes also prescribed. These include drugs like naproxen sodium or ibuprofen.
Manual manipulation via chiropractic adjustment is also an option for treating degenerative disc disease. This type of treatment can take pressure off neurological tissue, restore blood flow and increase range of motion.
Epidural injections that deliver steroidal medications into the spine can decrease inflammation, while TENS units use electrical stimulation to override lower back pain signals. Ultrasound therapy can be used to warm the area affected by degenerative disc disease to bring more healing nutrients and blood flow to painful areas. Massage is also beneficial in reducing stiffness, raising endorphin levels and improving blood flow for improvement of symptoms.