What are Spinal Discs Made Of?
We all know spinal discs are important- but to understand why, the real question is: what are they made of? Your spinal discs are little cushions between the bones or vertebrae in your spine. Each of your discs comprises a tough, fibrous outer layer (annulus fibrosis) and a jelly-like inside layer (the nucleus pulposus). The tough outer layer contains and protects the softer inside layer. These small discs have a big job. They enable your spine to move in all directions.
The nucleus pulposus (inner layer of the disc) is mainly made up of water. The high water content helps your discs stay supple and moveable. It acts like a small swivel, allowing your body to tilt and rotate. As you age, your discs lose their high water content and can become degenerative. Degenerative discs don’t move as well, are more prone to cause pain, and even contribute to compression on your spinal nerves.
Your spinal column has 24 moveable bones with spinal discs between each pair
Spinal discs are designed to help you move in all directions
Movement of your spine can help keep your spinal discs healthy
Movement is one of the best ways to keep your spinal discs healthy. Since your spinal discs don’t have a very good blood supply, movement is how they bring in nutrients. Moving your spine helps your spinal discs get nutrients to stay healthy and push out waste, contributing to pain and inflammation. If your neck or back hurts, give us a call- we’ll help you get your life back from pain.
Types of Spinal Disc Problems
If you’ve had a spinal disc problem, you know how painful it can be. Every movement seems to hurt, and it can feel like you’ll never be back to your old self. But, with the proper care and a little time, you can get your life back. Pain is a signal to “Pay Attention Inside Now.” If you notice neck or back pain, it’s a warning sign from your body. It’s your body’s way of letting you know you’ve pushed past its limits.
The most common type of spinal disc problem is called a bulge or herniation. A disc bulge or herniation is when your spinal disc’s inner portion is trying to (or has) pushed through the tough outer layer. When the inside moves or bulges, it can cause pain in two ways. If the disc bulges far enough to press on a spinal nerve, you may notice pain that travels down your arms or legs. If the inside of your disc pushes through the outer layer, it could also cause severe inflammation, resulting in pain.
A herniated disc is when the soft middle of a spinal disc pushes through the tough outer layer
Age causes the spinal disc to dehydrate the cartilage to stiffen, and can result in disc bulges/herniations
Exercises that “centralize” your spinal disc may be able to prevent future episodes of sciatica
Spinal disc injuries most commonly occur between 45-65 years of age. If you have spinal pain or pain that travels down your arm or leg, you may be suffering from a disc injury. The good news is that your spine is incredibly resilient. Research has proven that movement-based care, such as spinal decompression therapy and spinal rehab, is incredibly effective at helping you heal from spinal disc injuries. Our practice uses the latest research-based movement treatments to reduce pain and improve quality of life.
How to Strengthen Your Spinal Discs No one wants to deal with back pain.
If you’re struggling with pain today or looking to reduce your risk in the future, you may be curious about how you can strengthen your spinal discs. When you think about maintaining your disc, you must consider how you improve your core. Your core is the muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your spinal column and help your spinal discs move. Your core needs to have a balance of strength and flexibility. Strengthening your core allows your body to move, bend, and twist without causing injuries. Flexibility is also crucial. Moving through your entire range of motion helps your spinal discs stay healthy.
Core exercises can help your back maintain a balance of strength and flexibility
Movement of your spine promotes the delivery of nutrients to the spinal discs
Spinal Decompression Therapy can improve your range of motion and decrease pain
Maintaining the proper balance of strength and flexibility can help keep your core and spinal column functioning at its highest level. Keeping your spine moving is much easier than getting it moving. It’s been said that we don’t get old and stiff; we get stiff then old. Our practice is here to help you stay active, healthy, and happy. Contact us today to schedule a visit to assess your movement and create a plan of action to keep you pain-free and at the top of your game.
Keeping Your Spinal Discs Healthy
Proactively doing things today to help your spinal discs stay healthy in the future is a smart idea. Ain’t no one got time for back pain! Every day, your spinal disc absorbs stress related to gravity, posture, and movement patterns (or lack thereof). Over time, this stress can cause your discs to degenerate and become painful.
If you want to minimize your chances of back pain in the future, here are a few ways you can keep your discs healthy starting today. Movement and exercise are the top ways to keep your spinal discs healthy. Each day, try to move your spine through its full range of motion and be cautious about sitting for hours in front of a computer. A standing desk can help engage the small muscles supporting your spine, which is essential for your disc’s health. Another thing to keep in mind is your posture. The combination of inactivity and long periods in an unbalanced posture can wreak havoc on your spinal discs.
Prolonged sitting significantly reduces the disc height of L4-L5
Changing positions every 15 minutes helps the discs retain their height
Use a standing desk and change positions frequently to reduce your risk of low back pain
Next Steps: Keeping your spinal discs healthy is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing neck or back pain. If you spend long hours at the computer, you must take proactive steps to counteract that stress.
Call us today, and we’ll be happy to work with you on a plan to keep your spinal discs healthy for years to come.
Intervertebral Disc: Anatomy-Physiology- Pathophysiology-Treatment. Pain Practice 2000 Bulging disk vs. herniated disk: What’s the difference?
Mayo Clinic. 2019 Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc. Spine-Health. 2019
Exercise and Physical Therapy for Disc Disease Treatment and Pain Management. Spine-Health. 2006
Lumbar Disc Changes Associated with Prolonged Sitting. PM&R. 2014