Can I learn Aikido with Degenerative Disk Disease?

Patient

Q: I have been diagnosed with Degenerative Disk Desease. I am currently doing well I just had an L-4 L-5 epadural and that helped by about 70% for my sciatica. I do have mid back pain, it is not as disabling as the sciatica. I have been living with this back pain for 9 years. I am very interested in taking Aikido. At this point I feel the movement and physical disilpline could be very good for me. but the risks are obvious. why should I not learn Aikido? or why should I learn Aikido?

Doctor

A:   First of all is important to remark that, Degenerative disc disease produces changes in the vertebrae that along with the bulging disc are causing a nerve compression which is the cause of the pain. The treatment options depend on the age, severity of the pain, neurologic symptoms present and if you have some other associated health issue. The first approach is conservative as a Physical Therapy program aimed to control pain and inflammation along with anti-inflammatory medication, then, Conservative treatment would involve:  Stretching, exercise and massage. If severe, water aerobics, tai chi are good non joint stress exercises. You could practice Aikido but the “softer version” if you do not have a chance to do softer, I would suggest switching to tai chi or healthy gymnastics to keep and improve your vitality and flexibility, without the risk of potential harming.

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