Disc dehydration

Intervertebral disc dehydration

Disc dehydration (desiccation) will produce ‘black discs’ on MRI. Disc desiccation simply means intervertebral disc have become dehydrated and aged. This will happen to us all to some degree, and is a typical part of ageing. When a disc becomes dehydrated it is very likely that there is at least one tear within the disc. The more injuries (wear and tear) to a disc, the more tears (fissures) will develop and the more disc dehydration will occur. Technically speaking, dehydrated discs represent a structural change within a disc, a ‘hard’ substance called fibrocartilage replaces our ‘spongy’ substance called glycosaminoglycans.

Symptoms of disc dehydration

There are no symptoms of a dehydrated intervertebral disc. Dehydrated and degenerated disc are likely to have tears (fissures) and when these extend or become large enough to reach the outer third of the disc they may cause pain (discogenic pain). Dehydrated disc are a consequence of degenerated disc disease. Degenerative disc disease can be associated with neck and back pain depending on its location. Degenerative disc are associated with disc bulges, disc fissures (tear), facet joint pain and a host of other conditions that can cause neck and back pain.

Treatment of disc dehydration

At Sydney Spine & Sports Centre (S3C), we are a neck and back pain treatment centre of excellence. Disc dehydration is caused by degeneration in the intervertebral discs. Whilst there is no specific treatment for disc dehydration once it occurs, our physiotherapists and chiropractors can educated you on healthy spine exercises and activities to limit the risk factors that promote further disc degeneration. Our chiropractors and physiotherapists can also educate you on all the likely causes of degeneration in the spine and how to avoid them. Once your disc has become dehydrated no treatment can simply hydrate them again. This is a question we are asked often. Prevention is always the best cure. Please ask our chiropractors and physiotherapists for spinal health promoting programs.

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