• Disc Injuries •
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What is a slipped disc?
You may not be familiar with the term spinal disc injury, although an injury of this type can often be referred to by another name, such as a pinched nerve or a slipped disc. It can cause low back pain,sciatica and even weakness or numbness if a nerve is being compressed.
The spine is primarily made up of a series of blocks called vertebrae interspersed with discs which, along with the spinal joints, give you the movement that you need to move about the day comfortably.
The discs are a flat circular capsule-like structure, made up of solid fibrous rings on the outside (annulus fibrosis) with a soft, almost jelly-like centre (nucleus pulposus).
These spinal discs act as shock absorbing cushions, similar to those in a car.
What is a Disc Herniation?
A normal, healthy disc is very strong. However, it can wear over time due to cumulative strain from repeated bending, twisting, lifting or prolonged sitting.
The tough outer fibres can eventually tear allowing the nucleus to move and essentially ‘leak’ out, pushing into the spinal canal causing excruciating pain. This is known as a disc herniation.
The phrase ‘slipped disc’ is an interesting one when it is used to describe lower back or neck pain because discs cannot actually slip out. They can certainly wear out, tear or herniate, but they cannot slip!
What are the Symptoms of Disc Injuries?
A disc herniation can put pressure on both the spinal cord and the nerves causing symptoms such as:
- intense stabbing spinal pain,
- pain or numbness in the limbs,
- weak muscles and
- bowel or bladder issues.
Spinal disc pain can be excruciating and even a small movement can cause it to flare up.
If any of these symptoms (especially change in bowel or bladder function) develop suddenly, without explanation visit your GP or local hospital.
What is The Cause of a Herniated Disc?
Disc herniation can occur suddenly due to a single injury or accident, but it is more likely to occur gradually with one final ‘straw’ producing pain and symptoms.
Disc injuries can often be linked back to abnormal spinal function which has occurred over many years. Repetitive lifting of large or heavy objects or repetitive movements can cause microtrauma to the disc which over time can develop into disc damage and pain.
How do you Treat It?
The good news is that most disc-related problems are caused by spinal imbalance and restricted spinal movement which can be rectified over time with quality chiropractic care.
It is important to note, however, that a chiropractor cannot treat the symptoms of a disc injury without first finding the cause.
An accurate diagnosis of what is causing your pain must be made before any treatment starts. Disc injuries can potentially be very serious, sometimes even requiring the need for surgery, although this is relatively rare.
We Bring You Expert Chiropractic Care
Our qualified chiropractors will perform a thorough examination including functional, neurological and orthopaedic testing to establish if you have a disc injury. If indicated an X-ray, a CT scan or an MRI will be performed to accurately assess what damage there is to your discs. It is impossible to diagnose a bulging or herniated disc by spinal examination alone.
One recent scientific study showed that 40% of asymptomatic patients had marked bulging or herniated discs in their lower spine. In practice it is common to see bulging or herniated disc on scan where the symptoms such as sciatica are actually coming from another area altogether.
Once we know exactly where your symptoms are coming from, we can then determine the cause, how long it will take to improve the pain and what you can do at home to speed up the process.
We will also address issues such as posture, poor spinal function or weakened spinal muscles. Incorporating a healthy diet and active lifestyle will also ensure a healthy body well into the future.