The status of your spinal discs is the huge determinant in how your spine feels and functions. Your spine, as you know, is made of, usually, 24 vertebrae, with your sacrum and coccyx at the bottom, for a total of 26 segments. In between these bones/vertebrae, are spinal discs. They act like cushions between the bones and they permit motion between all the vertebrae, so that we can move in all directions.
Everyday we do all kinds of physical things, e.g. sitting, bending, walking, lifting, carrying, reaching, twisting, running, jumping, etc. All of these activities and postures place loads on our body, including the discs. Then, during the night, we rest, and the discs have a chance to recover. How much we recover depends on a lot of variables, e.g. genetic rates of degeneration and regeneration, nutritional status, how long we rest, etc. If we are lucky, we recover each night, so that there is no net degeneration. But, alas, most of us will have some discs that don’t quite recover after each day. That means that some discs will slightly degenerate each day, week, month and year.
Some discs, by virtue of their location, endure more loads every day, and are more likely to degenerate. For example, in the low back the most vulnerable discs tend to be the bottom two, i.e. L5-S1 and L4-5. In the neck the most vulnerable discs tend to be C5-6, C6-7 and C4-5.
As discs degenerate, they lose water content, and they slowly collapse, losing height, which is visible on x-rays and MRI scans. This collapse of the discs, reduces their effectiveness as cushions between the vertebrae/bones. Then the vertebrae begin to deform and a result of the increased pressure. Ligaments and joints will also start to enlarge in response to the increase in pressure. In short, everything gets progressively compressed. This process is the biggest reason that people get shorter as they age.
This begs two topics- how to mitigate the process and how to get relief of pain and disability when present.
First, as for mitigation, or “prevention”, the best you can do is improve your nutritional status, maintain your strength, and keep your weight ideal. See my post on core strength, to understand how that affects your spinal degeneration.
Secondly, as for treatment of this common problem, the most direct, and effective, way to improve or resolve the pain, is to physical decompress the spine. After 29 years clinical experience in orthopedics, physical medicine, physical therapy, neurosurgery and chiropractic, I have found spinal decompression to be the most effective, non-surgical treatment, BY FAR, for neck and back pain.
For the last ten years, I have specialized in this treatment, using the most sophisticated, clinical machine for this purpose. In fact, I am the only doctor in Georgia with the most sophisticated spinal decompression machine.
If I can help you with your neck or back pain, please call 404-558-4015.