Nucleus Pulposus

Definition - What does Nucleus Pulposus mean?

Nucleus pulposus is the soft fluid-like material located at the center of each intervertebral disc, surrounded by a tough, fibrous tissue called the annulus fibrosus, which functions as a protective barrier against the adjacent nerves of the spinal cord. The intervertebral discs assist with biomechanical functions of the spine including bending, lifting, and twisting, facilitating the variations of mobility.

WorkplaceTesting explains Nucleus Pulposus

The intervertebral discs of the spinal column provide support to the back by cushioning impact between the bony surfaces of the vertebrae where nerves connecting to the brain are responsible for the transmission of bioelectric impulses to corresponding limbs and organs. The nucleus pulposus acts as a buffer, maintaining the necessary flexibility and strength to accommodate the repetitive motions placed on the spine. However, many people experience physiological changes in which herniated (bulging) discs are the result of damage to the annulus fibrosus through wear and tear, causing the nucleus pulposus to displace towards the side and back, making contact with the nerves.

Disc herniations are common occurrences with age as the water-based composition of the nucleus pulposus becomes dry, decreasing the stability of the vertebrae as inelasticity and structural weakness can influence shock absorption from repeated movements. In the workplace, many industrial occupations carry job demands that can lead to musculoskeletal injuries often resulting from poor ergonomic measures, employee negligence, or deficient training methods. Spinal cord injuries can have detrimental health effects where limited mobility or paralysis can constrain daily activities, in turn, interfering with the quality of life.

Since dehydration of the nucleus pulposus is a consequent factor with age, individuals can help offset a loss of resiliency to the spine by following health and safety guidelines at work in conjunction with an exercise regimen conducive to personal welfare. However, in more severe cases, surgery is the most viable solution to rectify back problems coupled with rehabilitation including occupational therapy and physical therapy to expedite the recovery process.

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