For individuals who are dealing with back pain and problems, could knowing how to improve and maintain intervertebral disc health help alleviate symptoms?

How to Keep Your Intervertebral Discs Healthy and Strong

Intervertebral Disc Health

The spinal column comprises 24 movable bones and 33 bones called vertebrae. The vertebral bones are stacked on top of each other. The intervertebral disc is the cushioning substance between the adjacent bones. (Dartmouth. 2008)


The vertebral bones are small and round in an area called the vertebral body. In the back is a bony ring from which protrusions extend and arches and pathways are formed. Each structure has one or more purposes and includes: (Waxenbaum JA, Reddy V, Williams C, et al., 2023)

  • Stabilizing the spine.
  • Providing a space for the connective tissue and back muscles to attach.
  • Providing a tunnel for the spinal cord to pass through cleanly.
  • Providing a space where nerves exit and branch out to all areas of the body.


The intervertebral disc is the cushioning that sits between the vertebrae. The design of the spine allows it to move in various directions:

  • Flexion or bending
  • Extension or arching
  • Tilting and rotation or twisting.

Powerful forces act upon and influence the spinal column to produce these movements. The intervertebral disc absorbs shock during movement and protects the vertebrae and spinal cord from injury and/or trauma.


On the outside, strong woven fiber tissues form an area called the annulus fibrosis. The annulus fibrosis contains and protects the softer gel substance in the center, the nucleus pulposus. (Y.S. Nosikova et al., 2012) The nucleus pulposis provides shock absorption, flexibility, and pliability, especially under pressure during spinal movement.


The nucleus pulposus is a soft gel substance located in the center of the disc that allows elasticity and flexibility under stress forces to absorb compression. (Nedresky D, Reddy V, Singh G. 2024) The swivel action alters the tilt and rotation of the vertebra above and below, buffering the effects of spinal motion. The discs swivel in response to the direction the spine moves. The nucleus pulposus is made mostly of water, which moves in and out through small pores, acting as byways between the vertebra and disc bone. Body positions that load the spine, like sitting and standing, push the water out of the disc. Lying down on the back or in a supine position facilitates water restoration into the disc. As the body ages, the discs lose water/dehydrate, leading to disc degeneration. The intervertebral disc has no blood supply, which means that for a disc to receive necessary nutrition and for waste removal, it must rely on water circulation to stay healthy.


Some ways of maintaining intervertebral disc health include:

  • Paying attention to posture.
  • Changing positions frequently throughout the day.
  • Exercising and moving around.
  • Applying correct body mechanics to physical activities.
  • Sleeping on a supportive mattress.
  • Drinking plenty of water.
  • Eating healthy.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Drinking alcohol in moderation.
  • Quitting smoking.

At Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic, we treat injuries and chronic pain syndromes by improving an individual’s ability through flexibility, mobility, and agility programs tailored for all age groups and disabilities. Our chiropractic team, care plans, and clinical services are specialized and focused on injuries and the complete recovery process. Our areas of practice include Wellness & Nutrition, Acupuncture, Chronic Pain, Personal Injury, Auto Accident Care, Work Injuries, Back Injury, Low Back Pain, Neck Pain, Migraine Headaches, Sports Injuries, Severe Sciatica, Scoliosis, Complex Herniated Discs, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, Complex Injuries, Stress Management, Functional Medicine Treatments, and in-scope care protocols. If other treatment is needed, individuals will be referred to a clinic or physician best suited to their injury, condition, and/or ailment.

Beyond the Surface: Understanding the Effects of Personal Injury


Dartmouth Ronan O’Rahilly, MD. (2008). Basic Human Anatomy. Chapter 39: The vertebral column. In D. Rand Swenson, MD, PhD (Ed.), BASIC HUMAN ANATOMY A Regional Study of Human Structure. W.B. Saunders.

Waxenbaum, J. A., Reddy, V., Williams, C., & Futterman, B. (2024). Anatomy, Back, Lumbar Vertebrae. In StatPearls.

Nosikova, Y. S., Santerre, J. P., Grynpas, M., Gibson, G., & Kandel, R. A. (2012). Characterization of the annulus fibrosus-vertebral body interface: identification of new structural features. Journal of anatomy, 221(6), 577–589.

Nedresky D, Reddy V, Singh G. (2024). Anatomy, Back, Nucleus Pulposus. In StatPearls.

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "How to Keep Your Intervertebral Discs Healthy and Strong" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional or licensed physician and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez
Specialties: Stopping the PAIN! We Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, Dizziness, Poor Sleep, Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Deep Health Instruction, Integrative & Functional Medicine, Functional Fitness, Chronic Degenerative Disorder Treatment Protocols, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Wellness Nutrition, Wellness Detoxification Protocols and Functional Medicine for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. We use effective "Patient Focused Diet Plans", Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Mobility-Agility Training, Cross-Fit Protocols, and the Premier "PUSH Functional Fitness System" to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems. Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional life and facilitating living through increased mobility. Purpose & Passions: I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures focused on clinical physiology, total health, functional strength training, functional medicine, and complete conditioning. We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal and soft tissue injuries. We use Specialized Chiropractic Protocols, Wellness Programs, Functional & Integrative Nutrition, Agility & Mobility Fitness Training and Cross-Fit Rehabilitation Systems for all ages. As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we too offer our patients, disabled veterans, athletes, young and elder a diverse portfolio of strength equipment, high-performance exercises and advanced agility treatment options. We have teamed up with the cities' premier doctors, therapist and trainers in order to provide high-level competitive athletes the options to push themselves to their highest abilities within our facilities. We've been blessed to use our methods with thousands of El Pasoans over the last 3 decades allowing us to restore our patients' health and fitness while implementing researched non-surgical methods and functional wellness programs. Our programs are natural and use the body's ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, controversial hormone replacement, un-wanted surgeries, or addictive drugs. We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability or disability.