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Intervertebral disc

What is an intervertebral disc?

An intervertebral disc (lat. Discus intervertebralis) is a small, fibrocartilaginous disc between two vertebrae, consisting of two parts: the annulus fibrosus, which is the outer fibrous ring that fixes the disc in position and the Nucleus pulposus, which is a fluid gelatinous nucleus. Due to the high water content in the nucleus pulposus, each intervertebral disc acts like a small cushion or shock absorber between the individual vertebrae.

If pressure is exerted on the intervertebral discs, the discs lose their fluid. This causes a person to shrink by up to three centimetres a day. When the pressure on the intervertebral discs is relieved, i.e. when lying down, the discs absorb the fluid again like a sponge. By squeezing out and absorbing the fluid, the intervertebral discs are supplied with nutrients, as they no longer have any blood vessels from the age of 20 when growth is complete. The pressure change between loading and unloading is therefore one of the basic requirements for the metabolism of the intervertebral discs. Human movement promotes this pressure change.

Where is the intervertebral disc located?

The intervertebral discs lie between the individual vertebral bones of the Spine (consisting of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine) and flexibly connect the vertebrae to each other. Exceptions to this are the connections between the skull and the first cervical vertebra and between the first and second cervical vertebra - here intervertebral discs are missing. An intact spinal column has a total of 23 intervertebral discs, which make up about a quarter of its total length.

What is the function of the intervertebral disc?

Intervertebral discs serve as shock absorbers or buffers between the individual vertebrae. Since they themselves are elastic due to the liquid gelatinous core, they ensure mobility of the spine. Without intervertebral discs, the vertebrae would lie directly on top of each other and would block or hook together, which would be very painful. The intervertebral discs also provide protection for the nerve fibres of the spinal cord.

What is a slipped disc?

With increasing age, the water content and thus the elasticity of the intervertebral disc decreases. If the fibrous ring that surrounds the soft core of the intervertebral disc becomes more brittle as a result, the gelatinous core may bulge. In this case, it is called a disc protrusion. If the fibrous ring of the gelatinous nucleus is even broken through, this is called a herniated disc. The intervertebral disc falls forward, so to speak.

Herniated discs occur most frequently in the lumbar spine, i.e. in the lower part of the spine. This is because the spinal column is subjected to significantly more stress here than, for example, in the area of the cervical spine. OverweightLong periods of sitting, lack of exercise and incorrect strain (Osteochondrosis) play a major role in this.

Why does a slipped disc hurt?

The symptoms caused by a slipped disc depend on where it occurs, how severe it is and whether nerves or nerve roots are involved. If the herniated disc presses on nerve roots that emerge from the spinal cord in the lumbar spine, this primarily triggers pain. This pain is often described as persistent, stabbing and increasing with movement. The best known of these is sciatica, which can radiate down the buttocks and into the leg.Lumbago". In the area of the cervical spine, neck pain occurs with a slipped disc and pain that radiates into the arm.

How can I prevent slipped discs?

The most common cause of slipped discs is lack of movement and the resulting slackening of the back and abdominal muscles. Due to technical developments, we move less and less in our everyday and working lives. More than two thirds of employees move less than 1 hour a day. The main reason given is lack of motivation - and lack of time. That is why it makes sense to ensure continuous movement while working. Directly at the office chair, where people often sit for up to 10 hours a day.

More movement through Aeris office chairs

The active chairs from Aeris, such as the Swopper and the 3Dee, offer a sensible solution for this. Because thanks to a special 3D technology, they not only make natural and self-organised movement possible when sitting, but also demand and encourage it. This type of movement corresponds to the natural human urge to move: spontaneously, intuitively, freely in any direction and self-organised. The 3D movement eliminates one-sided pressure loads on the intervertebral discs. The vertical oscillation loads and relieves the intervertebral discs and thus supports the supply of nutrients. This keeps them healthy and elastic. The moving, dynamic sitting also strengthens the abdominal and back muscles and thus prevents back pain and slipped discs.

Individual references

Active Office: Why offices make us sick and what to do about it, Josef Glöckl and Dieter Breithecker, Springer Gabler Verlag, 2014

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