Spine conditions

Tips for good disc health

By on January 5th, 2018

Here are some tips for improved disc health during physical activity:
1. It’s vitally important to warm up prior to doing a strenuous activity. Pre-loading the disc at a lower resistance increases the ability of the disc to absorb stress and to avoid injury. For example, if you want to lift a heavy item, lift a lighter item first so you can prepare the disc for a larger load.
2. Keep neutral posture as much as possible and avoid prolonged (greater than 15-20 minutes) stooped postures without breaks.
3. Realize that your disc hydration is highest at the beginning of the day and decreases steadily as gravity gradually squeezes more
fluid out of the disc—so plan your activities accordingly and insert appropriate breaks for rehydration as the next points suggest.
4. Take frequent breaks (at least every hour) when sitting for long periods. The act of standing or stretching for even a few minutes
allows fluid exchange in the disc.
5. Taking weight off of the spine, either through a full forward bend (which has the added benefit of stretching your hamstrings), pushing
up on your arm rests, or lying down for two minutes every four hours will help rehydrate your discs. It is important to do this every two hours if you are doing continuous or repetitive bending and lifting. It’s almost as if you are allowing that sponge, which is your disc, to reabsorb the fluid and swell. To back pain sufferers, a stiff spine feels more like a brittle dry bone, so it is important to restore that cushion to return the disc to the fluid-rich ecosystem it actually is.
6. If you are a long distance runner, you should take a break after every hour of running to rehydrate your discs. One study showed that
discs undergo significant strain after one hour of running that, in the long term, may lead to low back pain and degenerative disc disease.

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Kamshad Raiszadeh, M.D.

Dr. Raiszadeh's completed medical school at UC San Francisco, orthopedic surgery residency at UC Davis and his Pediatric and Adult Spine Fellowship at the Hospital for Joint Diseases/NYU in New York City. He has 20 years of experience with the broad range of spine surgery including minimally invasive surgery, complex spinal disorders such as scoliosis and kyphosis, and cervical spine disorders. During this 20 years he has noticed a dramatic increase in patients turning to surgery for treatment of neck and low back pain, but many of them not getting their desired long-term result. He therefore became increasingly interested in improvement and standardization of non-operative treatment. By developing the best aspects of non-operative treatment in an atmosphere of empowerment to maximize the body’s own healing capacity, he noticed that many fewer patients required surgery, and the ones who underwent surgery had much better long term results.

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