The Most Common Spinal Disc Problems
Have you ever experienced back pain? Did you know that’s one of the most common health complaints in the US? Each day about 31 million Americans report having back pain, and a lot of it comes from spinal disc issues.
Why it Matters:
Your spinal disc is a complex piece of cartilage that sits between the vertebrae (bones) that make up your spine. Your discs have two parts. The tough outer portion, called the annulus fibrosus, is made up of collagen fibers. The inside of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus, which is gel-like. The discs have three main functions: to absorb shock, hold the vertebrae of the spine together, and allow flexibility of the spinal column.
Back pain and other symptoms can occur if the disc is damaged or pressing on your spinal nerves. The following are some common disc problems.
Types of Spinal Disc Problems
- Herniated Discs – A herniated disc is often called a slipped or ruptured disc. Symptoms depend on what part of the spine is affected and usually only occur on one side of the body. Patients describe a burning, sharp, stabbing, or shooting pain with specific movements. Some people experience numbness, tingling, or weakness if there’s spinal nerve compression.
- Degenerative Disc Disease – When one or more spinal discs break down, often due to age and injury, pain can result. Over time, your spinal discs become worn and lose their rubbery texture. It’s unable to act as a shock absorber, and flexibility can become limited.
Does Your Back Hurt? Back pain can significantly impact your activities and active lifestyle. If you’ve experienced back pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness, give us a call. These symptoms may be a sign that you have a spinal disc problem.
How to Tell If Your Back Pain Is Muscle or Disc Related
You’ve felt back pain. What’s causing it, and how can you tell if your back pain is muscle or disc related? Well, there are several common causes of back pain, and the first step on your road to recovery is identifying what type of back issue you’re dealing with.
Why it Matters:
Identifying the source of your pain is critical to developing the right plan of care. Research has found that while imaging can be helpful, it isn’t required every time you experience back pain. Starting with a thorough history and physical examination, our team will pinpoint your pain generator, identify the root cause, and create a complete plan of action to get you feeling better as quickly as possible.
A couple of the most common pain generators in the spine are:
- Muscle Strain – Muscle strains don’t tend to occur because of a single traumatic occurrence. Instead, they usually happen due to repetitive physical stress and overuse.
- Herniated Discs – Between each of the vertebrae of your spine, you have discs. A herniated disc is when the inside (the nucleus) of the disc pushes through the outside (the annulus fibrosus) of the disc wall. The pain you feel from a herniated disc generally comes from the disc irritating or compressing a nearby spinal nerve.
Dealing with back pain can be scary. But don’t stress! Most back pain can be taken care of without drugs or surgery. If you’re unsure of the diagnosis or cause of your pain, reach out to our practice today. We’ll be happy to help guide you on the best course of treatment to help you feel better quickly!
How to Fix a Slipped Disc
Slipped or herniated discs happen when the inside of your spinal disc pushes through the disc’s exterior. Believe it or not, most herniated discs don’t cause any pain or symptoms. However, if you’re struggling with sudden pain after lifting or twisting, a herniated disc certainly may be to blame.
Why it Matters:
As you age, your spinal discs become less flexible, and that can make you more prone to tearing or herniating a disc as you lift or twist. The good news is that over 95% of spinal disc herniations can be resolved without drugs or surgery.
Here are a few tips to recover from a herniated disc:
Exercise: Low back mobility and stability exercises have been shown to have positive effects on recovery from lumbar disc herniations. Exercise can also help with your proprioception, or awareness in space, which can reduce your risk of re-injury.
Chiropractic: Depending on your specific condition, our care may include gentle spinal adjustments to improve your range of motion and decrease pain, as well as stretching and strengthening exercises aimed at returning your spine to its normal function
Support: Back braces can help give you extra support as you begin your care and treatment – but be careful. Using a brace over a long period of time is not recommended. They should only be used short-term to help relieve the pressure on your low back as you return to your normal daily activities.
Many leading healthcare organizations have recommended chiropractic care for the care and treatment of disc issues. Discover more information to improve your health by visiting our website and Facebook Page today.
Preventing Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that can affect your spinal discs as you age. Due to stress and injury throughout your life, your spinal discs may begin to deteriorate and cause pain. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent degenerative disc disease, but researchers have discovered a few ways that you may be able to slow down the process.
Why it Matters:
The curves of your spine are designed to balance and distribute the load placed on your spinal discs by gravity. Several studies have found that changes to the curves of your spine may result in a higher likelihood of experiencing back pain. We recommend taking proactive steps to maintain a strong and flexible spine like daily exercise, stretching, and periodic chiropractic adjustments.
Here are three key action steps you can take to slow down degenerative disc disease:
- Stop Smoking – According to medical researchers, there is an association between smoking and degenerative disc disease. Smoking could even cause the condition to become worse and more painful.
- Live an Active Lifestyle – To keep your spinal discs healthy, you need to incorporate an active lifestyle. Focus on taking the proactive steps mentioned above: exercise daily, stretch and see your chiropractor.
- Pay Attention to Your Nutrition – You need the right nutrition to maintain the proper function of your discs, bones, and other areas of your body. Your diet should include a good balance of minerals, vitamins, and omega fatty acids.
Getting older doesn’t mean that you are destined to suffer from the effects of degenerative disc disease. By taking a proactive approach with your spinal health today, you can give yourself the best opportunity to stay active and pain-free for years to come. To learn more about how to live an active lifestyle, visit our Facebook page today!