Understanding Disc Problems
Spinal discs rest between the bones of the spine (the vertebrae) to provide comfort and assist with movement. Essentially, they are the cushions of the spine, and are comprised of an outer shell, the annulus fibrosus , which protects the nucleus pulposus , the soft, inner portion. Basically, the spinal cord is protected by the spine, while the spine is cushioned by the spinal discs. In addition to shock absorption, these discs also work as a ligament that holds the spine together while keeping the vertebrae separated.
When the protective shell of a disc ruptures, the soft, inner portion can bulge out and put pressure on the nerves of the spine. When the inner disc material bulges out and moves closer to the spinal cord, it is known as a herniation . Both of these scenarios can cause any of the following symptoms, depending on the severity and location of the problem:
- Back Pain
- Sciatica (when the disc problem occurs in the lumbar spine)
- Leg Pain
- Weakness in the Legs
- Bowel/Bladder Dysfunction
- Pain/Numbness in the Shoulders, Arms, and Chest (when the disc problem occurs in the spine of the neck)
- Muscle Pain/Muscle Spasms
Causes of Disc Problems
Bulged and herniated discs are caused by injury or trauma to the spine. For example, auto accidents or sports injuries are often the culprits behind this condition.
A different sort of trauma may also cause disc problems. When the spine is not properly aligned for an extended time, poor posture can lead to disc injuries. Disc degeneration is also a culprit. With age, the spinal discs dry up and become less flexible. Damage is more likely to occur as the body ages.
Chiropractic Care for Herniated and Bulged Discs
There are two main components to Chiropractic for disc problems: preventive and healing. As previously mentioned, consistently poor posture can lead the body down a disastrously unhealthy path, which includes (but is certainly not limited to) disc problems. Chiropractic care can help with maintaining the health of the spine in order to avoid this painful condition.
After a disc injury has occurred, chiropractic care can provide gentle manipulation to correct any issues within the spine in order to increase mobility and flexibility while reducing pain. Contrary to popular belief, chiropractic care does not ‘pop’ the disc back into place. Rather, it puts the body in an optimal position to heal spinal injuries and return to normal health and functioning.