What is Cartilage Disc Degeneration?

 

Without the structure and formation of the human spine, the human body would be drastically different from what it already is. The human spine is composed of 33 different individual bones, called vertebrae, that sit on top of each other in the form of a column. The bones protect the spinal chord, which is the component of the central nervous system that connects to the base of our brain in our neck, and runs down through our torso where it meets other components of the various other nervous systems.

In between each vertebra is a cartilage disc. These discs are designed to help the spine absorb shock and mitigate some of the pounding that it takes from external pressures on a regular basis. Every time we take a step, the vertebrae in the spine are placed under stress. When we twist from side to side, the vertebrae stretch and extend, with the cartilage discs keeping them relatively in place and protecting the spinal cord from being exposed when the twisting is occurring.

These cartilage discs are absolutely necessary for normal human locomotion and functioning of the spine as we know it. Without them, there would constantly be bone on bone abrasion, cause bone fragments and the depletion of bone density at a rapid rate.

As we age, there are natural progressions that occur in the human body that can sometimes present threats to our quality life. In the case of the spine, we may find that the lifelong pressures on the cartilage discs in the spine can cause them to deteriorate, resulting in a condition called degenerative disc disease. This name, however, can be quite misleading as it is not necessarily a disease, but a condition that we can carry with us for quite some time.

If we are experiencing disc degeneration, we need to know that we still have options as far as treatment is concerned. If we exercise the muscles around the spine, we can from strength in order to support the spine and take some of the pressure off of the discs. If we eat a good diet, we can reduce inflammation and ensure that there is adequate blood flow to the regions around the discs. We can also maintain a healthy weight to ensure that the cartilage discs are only faced with the pressures of the weight they need, and that there is no extra weight that can prove to be harmful. Disc degeneration is an unfortunate reality of aging but with the right approach, it does not have to be stressful and life-impacting.

Story Credit 

 

Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Tristan Bowersox

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