Fluid flow is crucial for spine. In particular, the discs rely on this fluid flow for both structural and cellular life. The cells that live deep within the disc are surrounded by an infrastructure without blood. This sets up a very unique situation for survival. Without a constant source of nutrients, it is imperative that they are still delivered what they need. The cells that build our support structure crave motion. It is human movement that facilitates fluid flow across the vertebral endplate.
What does most life on this planet require for survival? If you remember from the early school years, it is Oxygen, Glucose, Water, and Nutrients. And it is also important to remove elements too, like lactic acid.
The Chiropractic Experience
If you have visited my office as a chiropractic patient recently, you may have seen some added educational materials to the above suspended whale spine. This is to highlight important spine research. And why not blow it up so you can see it on a larger scale.
The red and blue directional arrows are to show the directional flow of nutrients into the discs and the expulsion of lactic acid (lactate). This aids in the understanding of what decompression (and compression) can do to degenerated discs. Often, my net goal is to improve spacing between the vertebrae(labelled Disc Space). You can also see the bony endplate on the adjacent vertebra where the fluids move through.
The information comes from several studies but there is one in particular that revealed this. Jill Urban is one of our best spinal researchers. In her research paper ” Pathophysiology of the Intervertebral Disc and the Challenges for MRI ”
“There is therefore a need to develop MR techniques that directly characterize cellular activity and factors such as nutrient delivery on which it is critically dependent.”
The spine is designed to move. Motion is life, especially when it comes to the intervertebral discs and I hope we can continue to look at imaging techniques to reveal the deep inner workings of the core of the spine : the discs.