The intervertebral discs of the spine play an essential role in protecting the spine by absorbing shock. These discs individually form a type of joint called the fibrocartilaginous joint which allows the vertebrae (the bones of the spine) to make slight movements. Additionally, the discs also function as ligaments, holding the vertebrae together.
Inside of the intervertebral discs is a gel-like center which goes by the name of nucleus pulposus. It is protected by an outer ring called the anulus fibrosus which is itself comprised of several layers that work in conjunction with the nucleus pulposus to reinforce the strength of the disc, allowing it to absorb force and distribute pressure evenly throughout the disc.
Degeneration is especially common in the intervertebral discs. In fact, they degenerate quicker than any other connective tissue in the human body. Because of this, it is common to experience back pain, especially in individuals beyond the age of forty. As the nucleus pulposus experiences dehydration, the disc is less able to absorb shock. This may lead to conditions such as degenerative disc disease.
This update is brought to you by the Cantor Spine Institute, a minimally invasive spine surgery center located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We utilize groundbreaking ultrasonic spine surgery techniques to treat a number of cervical and lumbar spine conditions including cervical disc herniation, ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament, spondylolisthesis, and more. For more information or to schedule a complimentary MRI review, please call 954-567-1332.