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Water loss in a disc

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:35 AM in Lower Back Pain
True or false?

Once you lose water in a disc, you can never get it back.

My MRI shows that I have pretty much lost all water in the disc between L4/L5 (i.e., no white showing in that disc)



  • The discs begin to dehydrate in our twenties. There is very little in the way of vessels or ducts running through the discs...so once the process starts, there is nothing to feed back into the disc to replenish moisture.

    This definition is from the Spine Universe website: "The first stage of degeneration occurs when the nucleus pulposus begins to lose water. This early stage is not painful and is called desiccation, which essentially means dehydration. Eventually, the affected disc loses height and hydrostatic pressure (balance) because of water loss."
  • Thanks gwennie,

    In someone's mid-30s, it would not be normal for he/she to have lost all the water in his/her disc, right?

    I am just an "unlucky" one.
  • I guess I'd have to agree that it's not "normal," but, on the other hand, it isn't the worst thing either. Despite what I wrote earlier, I would still drink lots of fluids -- make it a lifetime habit under the theory that it can't hurt!! Also, it does not necessarily mean that it will cause problems. As you get older, the disc will kind of finish drying out and become more brittle, which can be a good thing. (pain-wise)

    I have several "black" discs that show up on a MRI. Otherwise I would not know as I have no pain associated with them.

    I think the following article talks about that:

    Do you have back pain? If so, where and for how long?
  • Hi gwennie,

    Yeah, I have pain. Chronic since February. Compared to many others on here, I would consider relatively manageable. But it is still there.

    I looked at an MRI I had back in 2003, and water was in the disc. Now in 2009 it is gone. Something happened to me in 6 years. I have a mild, but noticeable scoliosis/shift that might be contributing to something; don't know.

    Medication works to relieve the pain -- acetaminophen and/or perioxicam as needed. Physical Therapy may be helping, but is still beneficial for lifelong health anyway.

    2 failed steroid epidural injections.

    New theory for longer term relief is facet joint injections at L4/L5 and L5/S1. I am planning to try that. I was offered Neurontin, but right now I am declining because I don't want to get started on a new medicine, especially one that has some of the side effects that I have heard it can have.
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