Disc Imbibition & Chiropractic

The spinal joints need hydration and nutrients to stay healthy and function effectively, which is true of our entire bodies.  This may sound obvious, but the spinal discs are not able to absorb water and nutrients in the same way as the rest of the body.  Most tissues in our bodies receive their nutrients and remove their metabolic waste products from the blood supply.  When we’re in our early teens, the spine ceases to receive most of its nutrients from the blood.  Subsequently, the spine is only able to receive water and nutrients through osmosis and a process called imbibition.  Imbibition happens when movement forces fluids in and out of the discs.  Try thinking of the spinal discs as if they were a sponge filled with dirty water.  You need to take that sponge and squeeze it to get out the dirty water.  Then you need to release the pressure to allow the sponge to absorb new clean water.  Simply put, the well-being of the spine depends on movement.  Our sedentary lifestyles are making this issue more significant.

With an ever-increasing aging population and the sedentary work habits of many Americans, we grow less mobile.  Less mobility leads to a loss of spinal fluids that leads to disc degeneration and ultimately significant loss of motion between discs.  Once motion is lost, degeneration will occur more quickly.  This issue of dehydration leads to shrinking which can cause chronic pain and accelerate joint degeneration.

Keeping the body hydrated is vital as spinal fluids deliver nutrients, maintain disc lubrication and remove waste products.  The average vertebral disc is approximately 90% water.  As we lose water during the day the disk shrinks.  During sleep, most of the fluid is replaced, but not all and only if you are adequately hydrated.

The research indicates that through quality chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression, exercise and good nutrition, aspects of disc damage can be repaired, without the need for pharmaceuticals or surgery.  However, spinal discs heal more slowly than much of the body.  While many patients achieve relief from pain within a few sessions, discs themselves take much longer to heal.

Prevention is better than the cure, so love your spine!  It is the only one you have.  Drink plenty of water, eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables, get enough rest, stay active and see your chiropractor regularly.

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