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  • Writer's pictureDayna Culwell

Is my neck shrinking?

Let me ask you a question. Do you have neck pain AND radiating arm pain? When you have BOTH complaints, it is often a cause of one or more of the cushioning discs in the cervical spine breaking down. Let’s try to picture this. Imagine sitting in a chair that looks pretty cushiony but it’s not. The cushion on the chair has worn down due to age and repeated “sits”. Now the chair feels mostly like the base it sits upon. The chair is no longer comfortable. Your “SIT” bones may start to squirm after a few minutes.

In a perfect world, there are six gel-like cervical discs that absorb shock and prevent vertebral bones from rubbing against each other while the neck moves. Each disc is like a seat cushion.

On the outside, you’ve got a tough but flexible layer of woven cartilage strands. It’s supposed to be resistant to anything that lands on it. The goofy dog and cat can sit on it and somehow it recovers. Both a young child and a 200 pound man can sit on it without any issues. On the inside is a soft interior filled with a nice cushy gel. Both the exterior and interior are equally important. The outer cushion is called the annulus fibrosus. The soft inner gel is called the nucleus pulposus. If the seat cushion sits on a chair in a quiet living room, it is likely to provide years of comfort. You’ve seen antique cushions that hold up to the passage of time. However, what if this cushion sits in the middle of a downtown diner. If the owners don’t replace the cushion every few years, you’re likely going to be sitting on a very hard, uncomfortable surface.

Your head (which can weigh up to 40 pounds depending upon your posture) sits on the very cushion we are talking about. Stretch your imagination a bit. Can you picture a heavy head sitting on a heavy book on top of a cushion, which sits upon another heavy book upon a cushion, which sits upon yet another heavy book, upon a cushion? Do you see how each lower cushion gets thinner and thinner with time?

When the cushions thin, the shock absorption wears down quickly.

As children

In children the discs are about 85% water. As we age, we lose water. By the age of 70, we may lose 70% of the water in our discs. Some people lose water even more quickly due to genes or poor posture.

Have you ever seen an older cushion that is faux leather? Lots of cracks due to wear and tear, right? So, as our discs lose hydration, they offer less cushioning and become more prone to cracks and tears. The discs are unable to truly repair themselves because they do not have a direct blood supply. Hence, a tear in the disc either will not heal or will develop weaker scar tissue that has potential to break again.

Who is more likely to have pain from cervical DDD?

Interestingly, almost 90% of people over 50 have cervical degenerative disc disease, but not victims suffer pain. Why is that? While in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, pain from DDD is likely coming from the disc itself. The problem manifests most when the acute symptoms become more chronic. No longer is the problem caused by the initial disc compression. Related conditions do the most harm. Herniated discs, osteoarthritis, or spinal stenosis all play into the acute symptoms, but osteoarthritis never gives in!

Osteoarthritis is a very general term used to describe inflammation within the bone/joint. Many of our joints are synovial joints and provide their own medicine. It’s important that we do what we can to move synovial fluid, blood, and other nutrients into our joints daily. Inactivity (like watching t.v.) spells disaster for our joints. The joints are starving for nutrition and the only thing we’re likely to be feeding is our tummy!

What can you do to prevent disc disease from becoming chronic?

  1. Keep moving. Circulate your body’s nutrition into each and every joint.

  2. Improve your posture. Your 14 pound head weighs 47 pounds with a tech-neck. Keep your head over your shoulders.

  3. Breathe into your discs. With each inhale, zip up your spine. With each exhale, relax the non-necessary muscles. Relax the muscles around your eyes, mouth, and shoulders.

  4. Change up your seating arrangements. Switch chairs. Lie down on your floor. Stand up for a few minutes. Avoid sitting in one spot for longer than one hour.

If you must see a physician, please always arm yourself with a second opinion. Do your homework. If you’re given a set of exercises from a physical therapist, ask WHY the exercise is prescribed. Don’t assume that your caregiver knows everything and don’t assume that they always have your best interest at heart. The best way to find a great physician or other health care provider is to ask your friends. Who found great results? Who had horrible results?

Yoga Therapy is not designed to diagnose or treat an acute condition of DDD. However, as part of your recovery plan, we can be your biggest ally and your biggest aid to recovery. Recovering from an acute situation is mult-faceted. Don’t ignore the nutritional component. Do remember that your mind is stronger than your body. Address the mind to address the body.

SEPTEMBER 26-30, 2022
Be sure to register for classes at least 30 minutes early.


8 a.m. Welcome Carol!

9:15 a.m. Welcome Judy and Andy!

10:30 OPEN!!! BOOK NOW!!!

12 p.m. Delicious Deep Stretch Yoga Class

1:30 p.m. Welcome Susan J.!


10:30 a.m. Brookdale Chair Yoga

12 p.m. Perfect Posture Yoga Class

1:30 p.m. Welcome Judy!

3 p.m. OPEN!!! BOOK NOW!!!

4:30 p.m. Welcome Susan and Paula!

5:45 p.m. Welcome Christopher and Michelle!


12 p.m. Delicious Deep Stretch Yoga Class

1:30 p.m. Welcome Jenny!

3:15 p.m. Clare bridge Chair Yoga

4:30 p.m. Welcome Carol and Chris


7:45 a.m. OPEN!!! BOOK NOW!!

9 a.m. OPEN!!! BOOK NOW!!

10:30 am Welcome Belmont!

12 noon Delicious Deep Stretch Yoga Class

3:30 p.m. OPEN!!! BOOK NOW!!

4:45 p.m. OPEN!! BOOK NOW!!


8:30 a.m. Welcome Paula and Susan!

9:45 a.m. Perfect Posture Yoga Class


Thank you for taking time to read my blog. This week required quite a bit of research into a complicated topic that affects many of you. I hope the visuals I came up with are helpful. Love to hear your comments.

And please, invite your friends to join us.

Dayna Culwell, C-IAYT, Certified Personal fitness trainer, CoreFirst trainer

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