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Q

My New Year's Resolution to exercise more has caused my back to ache. The doctor says I have "DJD" in my lumbar spine. Can I still exercise? What is best to do?

 
A

"DJD" stands for degenerative joint disease, and is the medical term for arthritis. As we age it is common for the cartilage covering the surfaces of our joints to wear down. If there is a history of previous injury to a joint, this cartilage breakdown can happen more quickly. Symptoms of DJD can be stiffness and pain. Exercise is good for arthritis if done in moderation and with good technique. Avoid high impact exercise like running, and instead choose lower impact like walking, stationary biking, or using the elliptical machine. Always wear footwear that is supportive and shock absorbing. Incorporate mobility exercise for the joint(s) that is involved by doing gentle stretching and range of motion. Strengthening the muscles around the joint will provide stability. On a daily basis, using good body mechanics and joint protection strategies while doing housekeeping, gardening, etc. can help decrease the strain on the joint and decrease symptoms. A physical therapist can instruct you in these techniques, and prescribe exercises that are appropriate and beneficial to your involved joints.

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