Discs Are Shock Absorbers.
There are 23 discs in the spine.
The discs have a rugged outer shell of sorts, the interior is soft and flexible. The discs are similar to the gum we had as kids with the thick liquid center. Discs need hydration. At birth, the disc is 80% water. Over a lifetime, hydration is critical for the health of the discs. When discs are under stress and poorly hydrated, they accumulate damage faster. They degenerate, herniate and debilitate (you).
Discs are somewhat rubbery but firm.
When discs compress and lose their height under stress, nerves, joints, and bones become compressed. Blood vessels, lymphatic tissue, ligaments, and tendons become compressed too. You actually lose height over the course of the day, because of compression of the discs. When you sleep at night, your spine DEcompresses. With more spinal stress, there is more compression. More compression leads to more damage. Age is only a partial factor, a young ski jumper may have more spinal damage than a much older swimmer.
What is the difference between a disc bulge and a disc herniation?
A disc bulge is a small protrusion of the disc that may begin to take up space in a nerve canal. Disc herniations have different grades of severity but are worse and more invasive than disc bulges. The worst spinal disc damage is generally considered to be a spinal disc rupture, where the inside of the spinal disc leaks out into the spinal cord or a spinal nerve canal. This can also lead to very serious nerve compression.
I’ve been diagnosed with STAGE III Spinal Degeneration.
Stage III spinal degeneration is a serious condition. The bones and spinal discs of your spine are compressing, arthritic, immobilized joints and bones that will limit your function and likely cause pain.
Degeneration does not go away. You must keep your spine mobilized.
When the spinal disc(s) and bones degenerate together, the bones often fuse together or create spurs and rough surfaces in joints that act like tooth decay and rust. Rust and decay destroy mobility and function. They also lead to pain. Degeneration does not get better on it’s own. It will not go away. It’s more a matter how is it going to affect you?
Is there anything you can do to be proactive?
Much like exercise helps heart disease and diabetes, maintaining health and hydration in the discs of the spine, positively impacts the bones, joints, and nerves of the spine as well.
Diet, attention physical stress, and proactive maintenance of the spine and its’ components are really critical to the longterm health of the spine. Keeping your weight normalized, staying mobile and active without heavy spinal compression will help a lot.
Chiropractic care focuses on the non-surgical, drug-free, health, maintenance and optimization of the nervous system and spine.