Do I have a slipped disc? My back hurts! My leg hurts!

Slipped disc? Although it’s not widely known, Chiropractic has considerable success in treating disc disorders, especially in the low back. In fact, very few people who are told they have a disc problem understand what such a diagnosis really means.

The disc is a fibrous bean bag chair between the weight-bearing parts of the vertebrae at every level except the very top of the spine. It has a chewing-gum like nucleus, not quite liquid or solid which acts as the mobile cushion for shock absorption and multi-axial motion.

slipped disc

Slipped disc?

The disc nucleus has a chemical attraction for the water contained in tissues and bone around the disc, and inflates with this when gravity isn’t applied (i.e. when we lie down). That’s why we are all taller and have a stiffer back in the morning and shorter before bed-time. No-one took this into account when the first astronauts went aloft and they came back almost 5cm taller, stiff as a board, rammed down tight inside their space suits when they returned to earth! That’s one of the reasons they exercise in space… with no gravity, their spines get too stiff if they don’t bend about a bit.

What of us on Earth? Well, the spine has a leathery coating around the front and sides, but not much of it at the back at the bottom. This means if a disc develops a hernia (it’s not a slipped disc!), it’s usually backwards where there’s little protection for the spinal cord and the nerves and we can get sudden excruciating back or leg pain. Rarely, the disc fragment
extrudes into the spinal canal and we need to have surgery to fix it. On the other hand, much disc damage occurs slowly over time, with risk factors of: bending occupations, vibration when sitting (farmers on tractors), and smoking (it interferes with disc nutrition chemically).

Note that if we stoop forward for long, we are tending to squish the nucleus backward towards the spinal cord and nerves, and if we bend backward we do the reverse. That’s why, if we stoop for long, perhaps working on the car engine, periodically, intuitively, we stand up and lean back (body smarts!).

A Kiwi physiotherapist called Robin McKenzie cleverly used this understanding to design a back exercise to help disc patients, but the exercise hurts backs if sacro-iliac (tailbone) joints
are the cause of the back or leg pain.

Finally, the only way to treat back or leg pain is to have an accurate diagnosis of the underlying cause of the pain first. BUT the fact you have been told you have a disc problem (perhaps after an MRI or CT scan) does not mean it can’t be successfully treated conservatively by a chiropractor, and often with a bit of help from Mr McKenzies’ clever exercises.


Chiropractor Ipswich qld | (07) 3282 4478

If you need a great Chiropractor in Ipswich QLD, give Booval Chiropractic a call today. We are here to help with all your spinal health needs including back pain, sciatica and lHealthy spine, Healthy life!