Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebra above and below it, a dis cannot “slip” as commonly thought. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to bulge, herniate, or worse, rupture.
This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, often interfering with their function.
Since spinal discs have very poor blood supply,they also depend upon the circulation of joint fluid to bring in nutrients and expel waste. If a spinal joint loses its normal motion and this pumping action is impaired, the health of the disc deteriorates.
Like a wet sponge, a healthy disc is flexible. A dry sponge is hard, stiff and can crack easily. This is similar to how many disc problems begin.
Other forms of treatment are steroid injections which do not treat the actual problem and symptoms return. Some recommend surgery which can lead to scarring of the transverse ligament, therefore later causing the symptoms to reoccur. Also surgery may weaken the ligament. As I always say, surgery must be the last resort if conservative treatment fails to correct the problem.
The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joints. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps decrease inflammation so the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissues can begin.
While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills by choosing conservative chiropractic care.
The Intervertebral Disc
While the intervertebral disc is a common culprit in spine related health problems, its function is widely misunderstood. The disc is a small cartilage pad that is situated between spinal bones. The soft jelly-like center, called the Nucleus Polosus, is contained by layers of fibrous tissues, called the Annulus. Each disc serves as a connector, spacer, and shock absorber to the spine. When healthy, discs allow normal turning and bending.
Because they are attached to vertibrae, discs do not slip, but they do tear, bulge, herniate, prolapse and dessicate.
The most common disc injury is a small crack or microtear in the tough, outer cartilage material of the disc called annular fibers. This allows the fluid to start leaking out, and the disc begins to wear thin
The soft jelly-like material in the middle of the disc pushes to one sid, forward or backward, and swelling occurs. The nucleus is still contained within the tough outer fibers of the disc, but can still cause pressure and painful symptoms
The soft jelly-like material from the nucleus in the middle of the disc ruptures through the tough annulus of the disc, but can still cause pressure and painful symtoms
A piece of disc material separates away and becomes a fragment or a free floating piece
The disc loses its fluid content and degenerates down to a rough, worn-down or worn-out appearance. This occurs as the bones begin to fuse together
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