Spine conditions

Why discs need to be primed

By on December 27th, 2017

Except for a small outer portion, discs do not have a direct blood supply. This is in contrast to joints like the knee, for example, which have direct blood supply through the bone adjacent to the cartilage. In fact, the disc is the largest avascular structure in the whole body. This has important implications for nutrition and repair of the disc. Since there is no direct blood supply, nutrients diffuse in and waste products are pushed out of the disc partly by the pumping mechanism that occurs when we move. Hence it’s important to feed the spine through movement, stretching, and exercise, or it will starve and degenerate sooner. Essentially, the more you move, the more adequately you infuse your spine with nutrients and help optimize its function. This is why people of all ages—usually including those who are currently experiencing back pain need to consciously make physical activity part of their life. When sitting at work or at home, I advise all patients to set a timer and get up briefly to stretch or take a short walk every half-hour.

Additionally, getting adequate hydration (eight 8-ounce glasses of fluid a day) will also mean that you make more trips to the restroom—further ensuring that you get enough movement throughout your day.

One activity that I find especially helpful to maintain good spinal flexibility and health is a yoga-based exercise called “cat-cow.” Do not perform this exercise if you have knee or wrist injuries, or are in acute severe back pain. This exercise is done while kneeling on all fours with the knees directly under the hips and the wrists under the shoulders. Inhale and lengthen your spine, distributing the weight evenly to the hands and knees. Exhale and round your spine, pulling the abdominals in and tucking your pelvis under. This is the “cat” position. Next, inhale and rotate the tailbone toward the ceiling and the ribs and chest toward the floor. Lift your head and look to the ceiling. This is the “cow” position. Repeat these postures for five to ten breaths at least once a day.

1 Comment
  1. Reply

    Elizabeth G Jones (Betty)

    December 27, 2017

    This is interesting and a great item for the tons of us with back problems. I’m still swimming 7 days per week and avoiding surgery.! I see your name from time to time and like following all your good work. Congrats!
    Thanks and Happy New year to you and yours!


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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