You’re probably thinking gray hair and back pain have absolutely nothing in common and don’t understand how they could be used in the same sentence. Gray hair and back pain have a lot more in common than you think.
Back pain continues to be one of the most common health problems facing people today. In recent years, it has ranked as one of the top 2 reasons to visit your primary care doctor (only behind the common cold). Billions of dollars every year are spent on treating back pain. More than 90% of the population will experience back pain at some point in their life.
Those are some scary statistics.
There are many causes of back pain, but one of the most common has to deal with the intervertebral discs. These discs fill the space between each of your vertebrae. They act as shock absorbers, decrease friction between the vertebrae, add stability to the spine, and add space between the vertebrae.
These discs are made up of, roughly, 88% water. The amount of water in the discs varies during the day. This is why you can measure one height in the morning and a different one in the evening. This dynamic change in the amount of water in the disc is normal.
However, over time your discs lose the ability to hold water and begin to shrink. There are many factors as to why your height shrinks as you age, but one of the reasons can be because of the discs are losing their ability to obtain and maintain water.
This loss of disc height sounds scary, but is it?
There have been numerous studies that have taken MRI images of healthy individuals with no complaints of back pain and found that they have “degenerative” changes in their spine. And, the reverse is also true. There are people who complain of back pain and yet have no abnormalities in their imaging.
It is becoming widespread knowledge amongst the medical community that the discs losing height is part of the normal aging process. It is much like getting gray hair as we age. Or, getting wrinkles on our skin. Or, starting to lose our eyesight.
Do not panic if you decided to opt for imaging and your doctor tells you that you have degenerative disc disease. This is not a death sentence. Just like wrinkling of the skin or graying of the hair, it is irreversible. And, although you can’t make degenerative disc disease look better on the imaging with time, it does not mean you will be in pain for the rest of your life!
But, there are some things you can do to help manage the pain and reduce the frequency, as well as the intensity of the pain.
One of the best things to do to minimize the effects of degenerative disc disease is exercise!
Are you having trouble knowing where to start to help alleviate the pain from your degenerative discs?
Feel free to download the self-help guide: https://sparkperformancept.com/back-pain/