A disc is actually cartilage that lies in between spinal vertebrae in the back and neck. These discs contain a jellylike fluid called pulposus that helps cushion the spinal column. Certain injuries, habits and conditions can cause dehydration disease in the spinal discs and fluid.
An injury to certain discs such as those in the lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) area can be caused by an injury such as a herniated disc, which can cause the annulus or outer covering or the disc to crack, according to the South African Spine Society. Consequently, fluid from a ruptured disc can exert pressure on nerves, causing pain and numbness in the spine and extremities.
A person's disc fluid can naturally dehydrate as they get older. Conditions such as spinal osteoarthritis can expedite dehydration because of certain vertebral deformities.
Smoking is known to cause degenerative disc disease and disc dehydration. When a disc dehydrates because of cigarette smoking, the cushion between vertebrae diminishes. This can cause a thickening of ligaments and pain from nerve compression.
Doctors can identify degenerative disc disease through MRI scans. These diseased discs are known as "black discs," which can also be detected through discography, an X-ray performed after an injection of contrasting media.
Doctors often recommend anti-inflammatory medications and exercise for people with disc dehydration. A person can also undergo traction therapy to replace disc fluid.