What is an intervertebral disc?
Let's start with a short description of the spine. There are 24 moveable vertebrae that are built up in a ring form along the length of the spine. The vertebrae lay over one another along the spine and are separated by very elastic cushions. These cushions are the intervertebral discs. They are made up of a gel-like substance surrounded by thready strands and are surrounded by bands which are adhered to the vertebrae.
The ring's "hole" serves the canal for the main nerve strand for the vertebrae, which are built over one another. The intervertebral discs participate in the forming of the intervertebral holes, through which the nerves leave the protection of the vertebrae and go to other parts of the body.
What is the function of the intervertebral disc?
Like a carrying pillar in the middle of a building, the vertebrae and intervertebral discs support a large amount of the body mass. The weight increases from top to bottom and that's why the vertebrae and intervertebral discs grow larger and stronger from the top to the bottom. The intervertebral discs allow the spine to move and turn without pain. Without the intervertebral discs the vertebrae would rub against each other. The intervertebral discs also give us more than 30 cm of our height. When people get older, the intervertebral discs get thinner and, therefore, shrink in size.
How we receive intervertebral disc problems
We notice most of the changing functions of our body. We feel the heartbeat and we know that we are breathing. When the heart is exerted and beats faster and when breathing gets faster, we know that the heart rate and breathing will regulate themselves after a rest. We are aware of our digestion system. We eat when we're hungry and stop when we're full. Even though our intervertebral disc is very important we don't feel them until a severe problem occurs. Then we need help. These intervertebral disc problems will not get better on their own.
Three types of intervertebral disc problems
The three main categories of disc problems are: The spine can actually sustain a lot of stress, but after a fall, back injury or a severe long-time sprain, a vertebra can be forced out of its normal position, shift the spine and irritate nerves through pressure. This is called a displaced intervertebral disc and happens to about every second adult at least once in their lives. In a prolapsed intervertebral disc, the outer part of the fiber is ripped and the soft gel-like part of the intervertebral disc pushes its way through and often pushes against a nerve. The spine can be moved back to its normal position through a chiropractic examination, but only if the outer part of the spine is weakened and builds an arch. This releases the pressure on the nerve or nerves, which saves the patient from being operated on.
What is a worn out intervertebral disc?
When getting older and less active, the intervertebral disc's elastic tissue loses some of its liquid content. Consequently, the intervertebral disc becomes thinner and weaker and is no longer effective as a shock damper. Even though the intervertebral disc STARTS to degrade between 23 and 26 years of age, everyone SHOULD be able to live their life without any complaints. Only when this aging and wearing out process happens too fast will problems occur. The intervertebral disc starts to form an arch and presses more and more against the intervertebral disc canal, where the nerves are, resulting in sharp pain.
How does it wear out fast?
Even young people can suffer from a worn out intervertebral disc, if they don't have the inadequate nutrition. That doesn't mean that you don't eat enough or too much. Every cell of your body needs nutrition to function. The intervertebral disc absorbs its needed nutrients from the fluids surround them.
Partially, this occurs through osmosis, but the actual phagosytosis occurs when the intervertebral disc moves. Through this movement, the circumjacent liquid is pressed outwards and inwards, like a sponge. Factors that unfavorably affect the intervertebral disc are: bad posture, stress, weakly developed muscles, injuries, muscle cramps and blockages.
"I have had a weak back for years" is a comment that chiropractors often hear from patients, when they finally seek help. Most of the time the patient has had back pain for a long time and when the patient seeks help, the pain is severe and persistent. The acute phase usually is caused by an accident, a motion or a fall, sometimes even just by leaning over while brushing your teeth. The pain is so severe and persevering, in this stage, that even the strongest pain killer provides minimal relief. Often the sciatic nerve is involved and a wrenching pain may spread itself from the hips to the toes. A severe intervertebral disc prolapse can also cause paralysis. In almost every case, the sufferer cannot practice his normal activities until the pressure on the nerve is eliminated.
What can be done?
In about 5 % of the cases, the intervertebral disc is actually "ripped" and a surgical operation is the only solution. Luckily, 95 % of the problems with the intervertebral disc can be treated with modern non-surgical methods. 100 years of research and experience have made the chiropractor a specialist for treatments for intervertebral disc problems. In cases where surgery is required, the chiropractor will refer a qualified to surgeon to the patient.
Chiropractic intervertebral disc treatment:
- Chiropractic treatment with orthopedic and neurologic tests to find out the reason and how severe the illness is.
- Remedy displacements of the vertebrae.
- Balance the vertebrae and the pelvis.
- Remedy fixation.
- Stimulate the intervertebral disc's "nutrition".
- Revitalize ligaments and muscles.
These methods and many others are used for treating problems with the intervertebral discs. They are absolutely necessary to prevent further prolapsed intervertebral discs. Anyone who has acute or chronic back pain should consult a chiropractor immediately to identify the causes and healing possibilities. Only the chiropractor can determine whether chiropractic treatments can help you.