Poor posture not only looks sloppy, but it can also significantly impact your spinal health, leading to a degeneration of your intervertebral discs.
Here, Patrick McNulty, MD, FABSS, FABOS — renowned, double board-certified orthopedic surgeon at McNulty Spine — discusses the link between poor posture and spinal degeneration. He explains what causes disc degeneration, how poor posture leads to disc degeneration, and the connection between sitting and disc degeneration.
Why do discs degenerate?
Intervertebral discs are the shock-absorbing pads that sit between the vertebrae in our spine. They help distribute the forces on our spine during movement, such as walking or running. Over time, these disks can begin to degenerate, which can cause pain and discomfort.
Disc degeneration is a natural part of aging, but certain lifestyle factors can accelerate the process.
How poor posture leads to disc degeneration
One of the biggest factors that contribute to disc degeneration is poor posture. When you slouch or hunch over, you put more pressure on your lumbar spine, which can cause your discs to wear down more quickly. And when your discs lose their cushioning ability, your vertebrae lose their protection and rub against each other, leading to further damage and pain.
Sitting for long periods, especially if you slouch, exacerbates the problem. Plus, when you sit, you put more pressure on your discs than when you stand or walk, causing the discs to compress.
The bottom line is that poor posture can accelerate natural disc degeneration.
The link between sitting and disc degeneration
Unfortunately, most folks spend most of their day sitting at a desk or on the couch. If you sit a lot, it affects your spine in two ways.
Sitting reduces the amount of muscle activity in your lower back, which can cause the discs to bear more weight.
Sitting also places more pressure on your lower back than standing or walking, further contributing to disc degeneration.
How we treat posture-related disc degeneration
There’s no cure for disc degeneration — posture-related or otherwise — but Dr. McNulty can relieve your pain and other symptoms and slow the disease’s progression. You can do your part by adopting proper posture. As for our part, here are a few of the treatments Dr. McNulty uses, depending on your unique condition and symptoms.
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Physical therapy
- Joint injections
- Radiofrequency ablation
- Nerve blocks
- Surgical spinal reconstruction
Poor posture can significantly impact our spinal health, but you can avoid the problems by keeping your spine straight and neutral and taking breaks from prolonged sitting. For more tips, call McNulty Spine in Henderson or Las Vegas, Nevada, or request an appointment using our online booking tool.