Disc Degeneration / Spondylosis

Due to injury, age and genetic makeup, the discs may become damaged and lose water. The disc is then called degenerated or dehydrated (as it has lost water). This damage in the disc is permanent and cannot be undone. A dehydrated disc is not plump and may cause some instability. This is like an erected tent which is unstable as its poles have settled into the ground. But, by tightening the guy ropes, the tent is erect once again. In the same manner core stability exercises tone up the muscles around the spine. The strong and toned muscles will provide better support to the spine. The extra support helps with back pain.

Degeneration is not only from age!

Generally, degeneration is something we associate with age. This is not the real truth. Consider two cars. One that does 5000 miles per year and another that does 20000 miles per year. After five years the first has gone 25,000 miles and the other has gone 100,000 miles. Though both are 5 years old one car has gone much more miles than the other. The wear and tear of the second vehicle will be greater than the first. Proper maintenance and service can decrease the wear and tear of the car. In the same manner, regular core stability exercises help the spine. The strong muscles surrounding the spine can provide better support and decrease pain.


Degeneration in the young?

Unfortunately, some incidents may increase wear and tear. A car tyre may last a year. But damage can occur if the tyre strikes a kerb. This will decrease the life of the tyre. In the same manner minor trauma may damage the spine and cause wear and tear. The damage usually starts at the vertebral end plate. The top and bottom flat parts of a bony vertebra. After the injury, the body starts an inflammatory process to cause further damage to the disc. This happens because the disc does not have blood supply.


Inflammation causing disc degeneration.

Since there was no blood going into the disc, the warrior cells in our body were not aware of the proteins in the disc. Following injury the proteins in the disc is exposed to the blood for the first time. The warrior cells in the blood now wrongly interpret these proteins as foreign. The warrior cells in our body now wage a war against the disc. This war is the inflammatory process that causes disc degeneration. Some patients are able to recall an incident that might have started this process. This could be as innocuous as falling off a tree or slide when they were very young.

Mechanical back pain

The term “mechanical back pain” generally means activity related back pain. Activity related back pain is normal and requires short rest from that activity. Doing any task requires training and work hardening. If you are lifting, your core needs to be strong. Stability exercises build the core muscles of the lower back. A strong and stable back allows one to perform strenuous tasks.

Created and designed by Dr. George Ampat, Consultant Orthopaedic Spinal Surgeon

Disclaimer: Dr. Ampat has a commercial interest in Feet and Spine which sells ergonomic office chairs, sit-stand tables, orthotics and comfort shoes.