Spinal Hygiene

Exploring the Link Between Lifestyle and Intervertebral Disc Health

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For individuals who are dealing with back pain and problems, could knowing how to improve and maintain intervertebral disc health help alleviate symptoms?

Intervertebral Disc Health

The spinal column comprises 24 movable bones and 33 bones called vertebrae. The vertebral bones are stacked on top of each other. The intervertebral disc is the cushioning substance between the adjacent bones. (Dartmouth. 2008)

Bones

The vertebral bones are small and round in an area called the vertebral body. In the back is a bony ring from which protrusions extend and arches and pathways are formed. Each structure has one or more purposes and includes: (Waxenbaum JA, Reddy V, Williams C, et al., 2023)

  • Stabilizing the spine.
  • Providing a space for the connective tissue and back muscles to attach.
  • Providing a tunnel for the spinal cord to pass through cleanly.
  • Providing a space where nerves exit and branch out to all areas of the body.

Structure

The intervertebral disc is the cushioning that sits between the vertebrae. The design of the spine allows it to move in various directions:

  • Flexion or bending
  • Extension or arching
  • Tilting and rotation or twisting.

Powerful forces act upon and influence the spinal column to produce these movements. The intervertebral disc absorbs shock during movement and protects the vertebrae and spinal cord from injury and/or trauma.

Ability

On the outside, strong woven fiber tissues form an area called the annulus fibrosis. The annulus fibrosis contains and protects the softer gel substance in the center, the nucleus pulposus. (Y.S. Nosikova et al., 2012) The nucleus pulposis provides shock absorption, flexibility, and pliability, especially under pressure during spinal movement.

Mechanics

The nucleus pulposus is a soft gel substance located in the center of the disc that allows elasticity and flexibility under stress forces to absorb compression. (Nedresky D, Reddy V, Singh G. 2024) The swivel action alters the tilt and rotation of the vertebra above and below, buffering the effects of spinal motion. The discs swivel in response to the direction the spine moves. The nucleus pulposus is made mostly of water, which moves in and out through small pores, acting as byways between the vertebra and disc bone. Body positions that load the spine, like sitting and standing, push the water out of the disc. Lying down on the back or in a supine position facilitates water restoration into the disc. As the body ages, the discs lose water/dehydrate, leading to disc degeneration. The intervertebral disc has no blood supply, which means that for a disc to receive necessary nutrition and for waste removal, it must rely on water circulation to stay healthy.

Care

Some ways of maintaining intervertebral disc health include:

  • Paying attention to posture.
  • Changing positions frequently throughout the day.
  • Exercising and moving around.
  • Applying correct body mechanics to physical activities.
  • Sleeping on a supportive mattress.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Eating healthy.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation.
  • Quitting smoking.

At Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic, we treat injuries and chronic pain syndromes by improving an individual’s ability through flexibility, mobility, and agility programs tailored for all age groups and disabilities. Our chiropractic team, care plans, and clinical services are specialized and focused on injuries and the complete recovery process. Our areas of practice include Wellness & Nutrition, Acupuncture, Chronic Pain, Personal Injury, Auto Accident Care, Work Injuries, Back Injury, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Migraine Headaches, Sports Injuries, Severe Sciatica, Scoliosis, Complex Herniated Discs, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Complex Injuries, Stress Management, Functional Medicine Treatments, and in-scope care protocols. If other treatment is needed, individuals will be referred to a clinic or physician best suited to their injury, condition, and/or ailment.


Beyond the Surface: Understanding the Effects of Personal Injury


References

Dartmouth Ronan O’Rahilly, MD. (2008). Basic Human Anatomy. Chapter 39: The vertebral column. In D. Rand Swenson, MD, PhD (Ed.), BASIC HUMAN ANATOMY A Regional Study of Human Structure. W.B. Saunders. humananatomy.host.dartmouth.edu/BHA/public_html/part_7/chapter_39.html

Waxenbaum, J. A., Reddy, V., Williams, C., & Futterman, B. (2024). Anatomy, Back, Lumbar Vertebrae. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29083618

Nosikova, Y. S., Santerre, J. P., Grynpas, M., Gibson, G., & Kandel, R. A. (2012). Characterization of the annulus fibrosus-vertebral body interface: identification of new structural features. Journal of anatomy, 221(6), 577–589. doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7580.2012.01537.x

Nedresky D, Reddy V, Singh G. (2024). Anatomy, Back, Nucleus Pulposus. In StatPearls. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30570994

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Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Exploring the Link Between Lifestyle and Intervertebral Disc Health" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, acupuncture, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from various disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Our office has reasonably attempted to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.

We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez, DC, or contact us at 915-850-0900.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN*, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

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