For many people, a disc issue shows up just like the straw that broke the camel’s back – you may bend over to pick something up as you’ve done a million times before, and suddenly you hear a ‘pop’ and your back goes out. But it’s important to remember that except in cases of a sudden major trauma, a disc will only bulge, protrude or herniate after years of accumulated wear and tear. When the tough outer fibers surrounding the softer, center part of the disc start to tear and give way, the inner part can bulge out and press on nerves that go into the arms or down the legs.
And disc issues, whether in the low back or neck, can be really scary for people. Pain is often intense and can interfere with walking, sitting, or other daily tasks, and in addition if the issue is not corrected you may be faced with surgery.
Anatomically, spinal discs are soft, compressible cushions that are primarily water and that serve to separate the interlocking bones (vertebrae) of the spine. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spine, allowing it to flex, bend, and twist. Degenerative disc disease (when the discs start to wear out) can take place throughout the spine, but it most often occurs in the discs in the lower back (lumbar region) and the neck (cervical region). This wear and tear on the discs can result in neck and back pain. They can also cause Osteoarthritis, the breakdown of the tissue (cartilage) that protects and cushions joints (which we can see on x-ray).
These conditions may put pressure on the spinal cord and nerves, leading to worsening pain and conditions than common disc herniation produces. If the spinal cord is affected, it can cause systemic problems within the body.
A chiropractic examination will reveal if there is damage to the spine that contributed to the wear and tear on the disc, leading to the eventual bulge. If so, adjustments can help restore normal motion and alignment to all parts of the spine, taking pressure off the discs so they can heal.
Chiropractic care along with time, exercises and a supportive lifestyle have helped many people avoid surgery and get off pain medications that may have unwanted side effects. And the best news is that our gentle style of adjustments (with no popping, cracking, or twisting of the spine) is safe and effective even for people with bulging discs!