What is a disc Injury?
Do you wake up every morning with a stiff neck or back?
Does your back hurt when you bend over?
Do you notice pain above your hips or between your shoulders after sitting for too long?
Have you had multiple neck or back injuries that resolve in roughly 1 weeks time?
These are signs that damage has happened to one or more of the vertebral discs in your spine.
The intervertebral disc works like a compression pad for your spine. It helps bear the weight of your body and acts like a shock absorber. When it becomes overused, it starts to degenerate causing it to get weaker and weaker. One day, when it’s had enough, it can tear in varying severity.
Think of the disc just like a sunny-side up egg. The outer layers of the disc are like the egg whites. They are very strong and made of dense cartilage that provides support. The inner layer is the egg yolk only more jelly like. This is the layer that gets overloaded. When this happens the outer layers start to fray and break, allowing the jelly-like inner layer to leak out (just like when you break the yolk). These outer layers have small nerves in them that send pain signals to the brain telling it that you’ve just sustained an injury. This hurts. Bad.
This is a very common injury. It results from bad form/posture, repetitive movements and overusing your body. Doing all 3 of these together can put 10x the load on your discs causing them to wear out and tear. Allowing this problem to go undiagnosed or continuing to ignore the signs and symptoms will lead to worsening of the injury. The tearing can break through all the outer layers spilling into your spinal cord and irritating your nerves. This is called a disc herniation and it’s not a good problem to have.
So how do you slow this down?
- When a disc begins to tear, there is a reason for it. It doesn’t happen by accident. The most common reason is muscle adhesion. Adhesion in muscles or ligaments decreases mobility and causes muscle weakness, putting increased pressure on the discs they surround. Think of it like a vice-grip crushing your discs. Breaking down the adhesion will decompress the disc. This slows down the tearing process dramatically.
- It’s also important to avoid overusing your body, doing repetitive movements (like bending and twisting) and of course getting a good coach that will make sure you have perfect form CrossFitting. This will go a long way in decreasing the load placed on your discs.
If any of this sounds like you, get checked by a professional. The last thing you want is a disc injury AND adhesion. That will put you on the fast track to a full blown disc herniation.