So you’ve been to get your back pain looked at, had a scan and it’s come back with the phrase “Disc degeneration” on it. DO not be alarmed. This is NOT necessarily bad nor a diagnosis as a cause of pain!
As a matter of fact, most people as they age get varying degrees of disc degeneration, depending on:
- the collagen / elastin fibre make up of the connective tissue of the individual.
- the past history of the person i.e whether or not has done repetitive lifting, bending or reaching.
- past injuries of the lower back and pelvis.
- sports played – e.g the repetitive impact of a front row forward will cause discal degeneration.
Studies on people with no back pain have shown that a person can live quite happily even when discs are degenerated. The natural course of wear and tear does not cause irritation or sensitive disc tissue but it does indicate that your spine might be suffering from the force of gravity.
So although your disc degeneration can be deemed as “normal” for your age, it should be remembered that as discs degenerate so does the function they serve. A discs’ function is to cushion and separate the vertebral bodies of the spine and aid in smooth movements from segment to segment.
As this cushioning between the spinal bones deteriorates so does the quality of the movement, which may not be immediately painful BUT does result in accelerated wear and tear and an increased risk of acute disc injury, arthritic pain, neural entrapment and muscle stiffness in the area.
The best way to avoid problems with a back that shows disc degeneration is to keep the back flexible and strong. I’d advise a variety of movements to keep the movement “vocabulary” healthy. This means practising a variety of back movements that go beyond the normal everyday walking and sitting. A mobile spine is a healthy spine.