Disc Degeneration Disease

Disc degeneration may occur when the intervertebral disc of the spine lose their ability to retain water, and this loss of water caused the disc to herniated or arthritis of the facet joints.

If you were to take a most pessimistic view of spine anatomy and pathology, you might acknowledge the fact that the bones and joints of our back begin to degenerate at roughly the same moment that they stop growing. This process is very slow at first, than begins to accelerate gradually from the about the third generation of life. Around the third decade of life, the balanced process whereby discs absorb both water and nutrients from the bloodstream on a daily basis begins, very gradually, to fail. As live from one decade to the next, the body begins to secrete more water at a faster rate than it can absorb it back.



This process occurs for all 23 discs of the back. Gradually, the discs begin to lose their water content, and as a result, their height. All of the discs lose rough the same amount of height in terms of percentage of their original peak height, though the lower thoracic and lumbar discs lose more actual height because of their taller original height. By about the age of 70, the discs at the top of the spine lose about 1/8th of an inch per disc, and those at the bottom will lose a little more. This process is one of the chief reasons that we get shorter as we get older.

Losing this disc height does more that just make us shorter. This loss of height and water content in each disc makes them lose some of their shock absorbing properties. Imagine letting half of the air out of your tires. With your four tires only half-inflates, you would be more likely to feel the various bumps and cracks in the streets than you would before. Eventually, enough air may be let out of the tires that your rims would begin to come in contact with the road. It wouldn't' t be long before then that your rim would become worn out and need to be replaced.

Disc Degeneration Disease
In this car/tire analogy, the whole tire itself would be the intervertebral discs and the ribs of the car could translate to the vertebral bones separated by the discs. The discs have the responsibility of shock absorption, but also of separating the vertebral bones from touching each other and wearing them out. when these discs are young and healthy, they are fully inflated, and their interior is filled with a pulpy mixture of water, cartilage-producing cells, collagen fibrils, proteoglycans, and other substances. The delicate balance of these various substances keeps the cells inside this area able to replenish themselves and to draw in water towards it center. Imagine a healthy grape shaped like a hockey puck.

Eventually, this healthy grape loses its ability to retain water, and it begins to take on the characteristics of a raison rather than a grape. In response to these changes in the disc. The loss of disc height stimulates the growth of osteophytes (bone spurs). These osteophytes may affect the spine in a few different ways. the osteophytes close enough to come in contact with the pain-sensitive nerves may stimulate pain symptoms in the patient. There may also be a simultaneous loss of disc height accompanies by the weakening of the wall of the disc (annulus fibrosis). The loss of height and weakening of the annulus may eventually cause disc degeneration disease.