The spinal cord is a beautiful part of the body. This curvature of bones houses and manages a plethora of nerves, muscles and ligaments which in turn run the entire body. It is important. It is delicate. Many of us have experienced back pain at one time or another, perhaps from being pushed on the back in a line at the grocery store, a blind-sided hit in our high school football days, or a car accident, just to name a few, but no matter the cause, disc herniation can result in a terribly painful long-lasting condition. Sometimes the issue is a simple strain on a ligament or muscle and can be easily fixed by a home remedy such as some stretching combined with rest. Other times, however, the situation is more painful and in need of professional attention. For centuries, the spinal cord remained a mystery, but with research conducted over the most recent decades, present day specialists now understand more of what makes the spine “tick” and have discovered safer and more gentle ways (not to mention more economic) to assist the spine and protect it against further injury.
The spine is made up of many parts. Vertebrae connect like flexible building blocks to form the command center. These bones are flanked above and below by ring like ligaments known as the annulus fibrosis (or more commonly called “spinal discs” as shown in the image above in blue). These rings are thick and spongy and act as shock absorbers for the vertebrae providing it with protection and flexibility. The nucleus pulposis is a jelly like substance surrounding the discs and vertebrae, acting as further protection from shock as well as guides the spine as it adjusts and moves. When this tissue becomes damaged it can apply pressure as shown above in red. The disc (blue), once injured (red) applies unwelcomed pressure on the nerves (orange) along the spine as shown above resulting in excruciating pain to the patient.
Disc Related Injuries
Sticking out of the sides of the vertebrae sets the discs at a higher risk of injury. While not all back pain is a result of a “slipped” or “torn” disc, it still does not negate the extreme pain and discomfort suffered when injury to the discs does occur. There are many different injuries which can affect the spinal discs, but one of the best known and most painful is the herniated disc. Herniation occurs when the annulus suffers drastic tears and there is leakage of the nucleus. As when a ligament is torn elsewhere in the body, the disc swells, compressing local nerves and even causing interference to the spinal cord itself. Symptoms of a herniated disc include:
Severe irritation along the neck and back of the patient
Pain in the limbs (shooting and throbbing)
Stiffness, tenderness or soreness along the spine is likely to be constantly present
In all cases of a slipped disc professional medical care should be sought. If you suffer from difficulty to urinate, tingling or a loss of sensibility in the limbs or severe back pain, you should seek immediate medical attention. Thankfully, the majority of back pain can be alleviated through non-surgical options such as chiropractic care and acupuncture treatment. After an evaluation, your chiropractor will be able to inform of you of the best options available to you, and in some cases surgery may be avoided.
Many times, chiropractic care is chosen to resolve spinal issues, and for anyone in pain a chiropractor should be sought for competent advice. Chiropractic doctors will most likely perform several different treatments including spinal manipulation and physical therapy. Acupuncture is another widely growing method which may be used for pain management during the repair process as well as the use of electric stimulation to trigger the body’s natural pain killing endorphins. The use of a TENS machine may also be recommended, which can be a costly option, but for many has provided a great amount of relief, with a high success rate of pain alleviation.
Many times chiropractors will assign “homework” to safely continue spinal repair in between appointments, follow their instructions to exactness. As always, consult with your physician to determine the best method for you.