The disc is part of the spine that has received a lot of attention in recent years. We often hear the terms “slipped disc”, “ruptured disc”, “herniated disc” and “prolapsed disc”
The disc is (made up of two parts – a tough fibrous outer ring and a gel-like centre) and is located between the spinal bones . Because it’s found between the vertebrae it’s officially called the intervertebral disc. Today researchers are in general agreement that disc lesions are the single most common cause of lower back pain.
The intervertebral disc performs many functions. It separates the vertebrae and very importantly acts as a shock absorber between the bones. It helps give the spine its curves and also joins the vertebrae together. There are 23 discs in our spinal column. In fact, in the morning we are about a quarter inch to half inch taller than we were the night before because the discs lose fluid as a result of gravity during the day, causing it to thin out, hence causing loss of height.
Surprisingly, the disc may start showing signs of wear and tear as early as age 15. Over the years the disc loses a little fluid and small cracks (lesions) begin to form in the outer walls. The nucleus pulposis begins to bulge and push the annular fibrosis out of shape. This is called a protrusion. If the part bulges out too much it may actually separate from the rest of the disc and become a disc prolapse.
If the prolapsed disc goes into the spinal cord or puts extreme pressure on the nerves it may cause severe pain that could make sitting, standing, walking, lifting, urinating, defecating, sneezing, coughing and moving nearly impossible. In extreme cases numbness of the leg or foot or a loss of muscular control may occur.
What is a Slipped Disc?
People often refer to the term “slipped disc” however a disc cannot slip – it is knitted into the vertebrae from both above and below. Sometimes the vertebrae shift and, slip out of position which may put pressure upon the disc and contribute to its damage. What is most often referred to as a “slipped disc” is more accurately called a disc prolapse.
Disc degeneration often damages lumbar and sacral nerves of the lower spine. As a result, various conditions in the pelvic area may occur. Among these are endometriosis, infections (bladder, vaginal, kidney), prostate problems, miscarriage, sterility, sexual impotence, problems of urinary retention, cystitis, menstrual cramps and constipation. It is not uncommon for an individual who has a chronic back problem to suffer from one or more of the above problems as well.
Is Back Surgery Necessary?
Back surgery should be your last choice. We recommend natural first, drugs second and surgery last. A laminectomy cuts off the offending facet joint, leaving the spinal cord exposed! A spinal fusion cuts out the disc tissue and immobilizes the joint. While there may be times when surgery makes sense, it’s expensive, risky and more than half of all back surgeries fail.
Chiropractic – A Safe and Natural Alternative
Conservative chiropractic care is a safer alternative as it is natural and seeks to correct the underlying cause of the problem. More and more people are choosing chiropractic care first as specific chiropractic adjustments can help improve spinal function and prevent the need for medical intervention and intrusive orthopaedic surgery. Sometimes people decide to consult a chiropractor after they have had surgery as they still continue to have problems. Although the surgery may have permanently altered some of the spine, it is not too late for chiropractic care which will help to keep other areas of the spine free of interference and help prevent the need for further surgery.
After a course of chiropractic care, many patients decide to keep up a course of maintenance and wellness care to help prevent future episodes of ill health and dis-ease. Keeping the spine free of interference is one of the most proactive decisions you can take.
If you are suffering from disc problems or would like a possible alternative to back surgery, call us on 01273 208 188 for a FREE consultation.