I have lost count of the number of times I have had patients tell me
‘I’ve done a disc’
‘My disc popped’
‘I have degenerative discs’
‘I slipped my discs’
These catastrophic thought patterns feed into the common fear that so many people have; the fear of intervertebral disc injury. But what if I told you that you could decrease your chances of injuring your discs?
Before I do, here’s a little information about intervertebral discs (IVDs).
IVDs are located between each vertebrae (bone) in the spine. Their role is to act as a shock absorber for the spine, thus decreasing the pressure on the vertebrae and nerves within the spinal column.
Discs are made up of
- annulus fibrosis: hard cartilaginous rings creating a strong outer boarder of the disc, and
- nucleus pulposis: the inside of a disc resembling a toothpaste consistency, allowing for malleability and shock absorption within the disc
Injuries to the IVDs can occur as a result of direct trauma or a gradual degeneration.
IVD pain is regarded by many as ‘the worst pain you will ever experience!’. It is often associated with symptoms in the back, buttock and into the leg. While IVD injuries CAN be treated with physiotherapy and rarely require medical intervention, as a physiotherapist, I much prefer to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.
Recently a study conducted by Deakin University here in Australia found a relationship between exercise and IVD health. They report that those who regularly run at a low intensity, or walk at a high intensity, have healthier discs than those who don’t exercise.
While the study was unable to prove that exercise caused discs to be healthier after injury, it was clear that those who ran had healthier discs. So if you want to avoid the pain of IVD injuries, do your spine a favour and head out for a brisk walk or jog today!