I often see patients that are worried that they have a “slipped disc.” In reality, discs don’t actually “slip,” they tend to bulge, which can lead to neck and lower back issues. Depending on the nature of the disc bulge, chiropractic can be an effective option in helping relieve the associated symptoms.
We have discs in between each of our vertebra. These discs act as shock absorbers for the spine. The disc is made up of two seperate parts, the annulous fibrosis, a tough outer layer, and the nucleus pulposis, a spongy, liquid substance. I like to compare the disc to a jelly donut, with the donut itself being the annulous and the jelly being the nucleus.
Over time, these discs can begin to lose their height, which increases the pressure on the inside of the disc. When this pressure increases, the inner portion on the disc, the jelly, can begin to push into the outer layer. This is a known as a bulging disc. The further the disc bulges, the more likely it is to compress a spinal nerve, thus causing pain.
Without treatment, the jelly portion of the disc can eventually push all the way out of the outer layer. This is known as a herniated disc. Herniated discs are more likely to cause back pain as well as radiating leg or arm pain. Arm or leg weakness can also be seen in more severe cases.
If you are suffering from neck or lower back pain, a chiropractor can usually determine if your pain is related to a disc issue by doing a medical history and physical exam. During the exam, the chiropractor will perform a number of tests designed to determine whether your pain is coming from a disc issue, or if it is being caused by something else. Depending on the exam findings, further testing such as an x-ray or MRI may be used as well.
Research has shown that chiropractic care is safe and effective for pain related to disc issues, especially when used in conjunction with exercises designed to strengthen the neck and lower back. A chiropractor will probably use both in order to best treat your condition.
In our office, we use both and regularly see patients experiencing bulging discs or pain that is coming from the discs (even if the disc is not necessarily herniated). We’ve helped tons of people get out of pain and back to their normal activities and we look forward to helping you too!