Vertebral discs are very unique structure in human (mammal) physiology. Discs work as cushions and shock absorbers in the spinal column to lessen impact as we run, climb or jump. The disc is mostly made of water which gives them their great resilience. However, as we age the discs tend to dry up and become more brittle and fragile. Vertebral discs have no direct blood supply and like synovial joints (hand, elbow, shoulder etc.) they have no direct blood supply or nervous innervation. As a result, discs get all their oxygen, food and waste removal through imbibition. That is the action of joint movement is what pumps good stuff in and bad stuff out. Therefore, discs truly have a “use it or lose it” mentality. If you are not sufficently active they will degenerate faster, which goes against common thought that activity causes arthritis. Actually, inactivity causes reduced joint imbibition and speeds up joint degeneration and discal arthritis (DDD, degenerative disc disease). That being said, if you do too much or too hard that damages the disc and leads to aberrant function. This dysfunctional action causes the disc to wear out and degenerate. So you have to be careful, too much or too little activity is bad for your disc health. When discs become injured they sometimes swell, causing a disc bulge with joint pain and nerve irritation. This type of disc injury cause moderate to severe back pain and sometimes symptoms into the leg. These are radicular symptoms, because they radiate from the site of the injury at the vertebral disc. These symptoms can be pain (sharp or dull), burning, tingling, cold or a crawling sensation (paresthesia). These disc injuries most often can be significantly helped with conservative treatment: chiropractic spinal adjustments, ice, gently exercise etc. If the injury is worse, the disc can herniate or prolapse and even leak. This causes severe joint pain and nerve root pressure. This type disc injury causes extreme back and leg pain, inability to support weight properly, muscle weakness, severe burning sensation, loss of deep tendon reflexes and severe limb numbness. This type of disc injury can also be helped with chiropractic and conservative methods but it takes a long time to recover. Sometimes, spinal surgery is required to relieve the nerve root pressure. This is done by snipping off the prolapse disc portion or sawing off a piece of the vertebrae to lessen the nerve root pressure. In severe cases of instability, the surgeon installs hardware; bolts, plates and screws to secure the spinal area. Spinal surgery is an extreme and dangerous measure and should be held as a last resort for even under the best circumstances it takes a long time to recover and exposes the patient to all kinds of risks. Dangers from anethesia, infection, fail back surgery syndrome and surgical mistakes. It also leaves that area of the spinal weaker and increases the chances of further spinal surgery. The disc and spinal cord are very delicate articles and cannot be uncut. There are a variety of ailments that can be associated to the discs in the human spine. and can vary from the mild to the more complex degenerative disc disease. It’s important to receive a proper diagnosis initially and start with most conservative treatment possible. Your chiropractor is the best place to start.
Get started with us today and begin the process of getting your disc injuries or other problems diagnosed and a treatment plan created for you. We only accept cases we feel that when can truly help. Let’s get started today so you will soon notice a drastic improvement in your quality of life.
There are a lot of resources out there supporting the use of chiropractic care to treat various disc related issues. Various articles can be found in our blog that discuss the various subjects of treating different pains associated with disc problems.