Spinal Discs and Their Purpose
Your spinal column, or vertebrae, has 24 moveable bones with spinal discs between each pair. Each disc acts like a small swivel to allow your body to tilt and rotate.
Spinal discs are the little cushions that sit between the bones (vertebrae) in your spine. Each disc is made up of a tough, fibrous outer later, called annulus fibrosis. The inner, jelly-like layer is called the nucleus pulposus. The tough outer layer contains and protects the softer inside layer.
The spinal discs have several purposes and functions:
- Enables your spine to move in all directions
- Absorbs shock by keeping the vertebrae separated when there is impact from activity
- Protects the nerves that run down the middle of the spine
Types of Spinal Disc Problems
The most common type of spinal disc problem is called a bulge or herniation. These injuries most commonly occur between 45-65 years of age when discs are naturally more dehydrated and stiffer.
A disc’s inner layer is mostly made up of water. That high water content helps keep the disc supple and moveable. However, as you get older, your discs tend to lose their high water content which can lead to degeneration. Degenerative discs lack movement, are prone to cause pain and contribute to compression of your spinal nerves which can lead to a herniated disc.
A disc bulge or herniation occurs when a disc’s inner portion is try to or has pushed through its tough outer layer.
Symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Pain traveling down your arms or legs
- Severe inflammation in the spine or surrounding areas resulting in pain
- Numbness or tingling
How to Keep Your Spinal Discs Healthy
The good news: your spine is incredibly resilient.
Research has proven that movement-based care is effective at helping you heal from spinal disc injuries. Exercises that centralizes your spinal disc may be able to prevent future episodes of sciatica.
Furthermore, if you’re looking to strengthen your spinal discs in order to prevent injury, starting at the body’s core is best. Strengthening your core will allow your body to have the support it needs to move, bend and twist without causing injuries or pain.
Our top tips for keeping your spine healthy and strong:
- Stretch after any physical activity.
- When sitting, change your position every 15 minutes and stand up to walk around at least once per hour.
- Work at a desk? Try a standing desk or sit on a yoga ball – changing your positions helps activate the supporting muscles around the spine to help with your posture.
- Strengthen your core.
- Sleep on a supportive mattress.
- Maintain a healthy weight through proper eating habits and exercise.
- Drink a lot of water.
- Get adjusted by a chiropractor.
Keeping your spinal discs healthy is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing neck or back pain.
We’d be happy to work with you on a treatment plan to keep your spinal discs healthy for years to come.
Give us a call at 240-766-0300 or schedule online today!
Bulging Disc vs. Herniated Disc: What’s the Difference? Mayo Clinic. 2019.
Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc. Spine-Health. 2019.