Degeneration of the spinal disc due to bad posture and biomechanics occurs over time as a result of increased pressure and stress on the spine. The intervertebral discs, which are the cushion-like structures between the vertebrae, can start to break down and lose their shape and function. This process is called disc degeneration.
Causes of Disc Degeneration
Poor posture and biomechanics, such as slouching or sitting for long periods, can cause an uneven distribution of weight on the spine. This leads to increased pressure on certain discs. Over time, the increased pressure on the discs causes the outer layer, called the annulus fibrosus, to weaken and develop small tears. The annulus fibrosus is responsible for providing strength and flexibility to the disc.
Phases of Disc Degeneration
- Normal Disc: In a healthy spine, the intervertebral discs are well-hydrated and maintain their shape, providing cushion and support between the vertebrae. The annulus fibrosus is strong and intact, and the nucleus pulposus is contained within it.
- Disc Desiccation: Over time, the disc may start to lose water content, causing it to become less flexible and more prone to damage. This is an early stage of degeneration and may not cause any symptoms.
- Disc Bulging: As the annulus fibrosus weakens, the nucleus pulposus may start to bulge outwards, causing the disc to lose its normal shape. This can put pressure on the surrounding nerves and spinal cord, leading to pain and other symptoms.
- Disc Herniation: The annulus fibrosus may develop tears, allowing the nucleus pulposus to leak out of the disc. This can cause inflammation and further pain, as well as nerve compression.
- Disc Space Narrowing: As the disc continues to degenerate, the space between the vertebrae narrows, and the vertebrae may start to rub against each other. This can lead to the development of bone spurs, which can cause additional pain and stiffness.
- Advanced Degeneration: In the final stage of disc degeneration, the disc may be severely dehydrated and collapsed, leading to significant loss of height in the disc space. The vertebrae may fuse together, causing reduced mobility and chronic pain.
Prevention and Treatment
To prevent or slow down disc degeneration, it’s essential to maintain good posture, engage in regular exercise, and practice proper body mechanics when lifting and carrying objects. If you’re experiencing symptoms related to disc degeneration, consult your local Chiropractor for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.