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Safeguarding Your Spinal Health from the Inside Out

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WEEK 1
The Anatomy of a Spinal Disc: What Does it Look Like?

Waterbeds were something else, weren’t they?

It’s still crazy to think there was actually a time where so many of us were sleeping on vinyl “mattresses” that were filled with gallons and gallons of water inside of our carpeted bedrooms.

What’s crazier still is that… they were actually pretty durable.

They made it through round after round of young kids playing on them and jumping off the headboard and otherwise hurling themselves right into the middle of the mattress unscathed.

And, as a chiropractor - particularly a chiropractor who specializes in back pain chiropractic care in Singapore - I couldn’t help but think about how waterbeds can be compared to our spinal discs in more ways than one - specifically, the anatomy of a spinal disc.

Bottom Line:

The discs of the spine are some of the hardest working players in the body.

In fact, they’re a great deal like the waterbed that serves as both an impromptu child’s trampoline and a place to get some much needed rest.

Our spinal discs are tasked with standing up to the physical stress of our day to day activities, and are so important because together they allow our spine to move in all directions.

Doing what we can to keep them healthy is crucially important to our spinal health, and to better understand how we can do just that it helps to understand the anatomy of a spinal disc.

Why it Matters:

Think of your spinal discs as the tiny but mighty cushions that sit between each pair of the 24 moveable bones (vertebrae) in your spine.

In addition to cushioning the bones, each acts a small swivel that allows your body to tilt and rotate.

Maintaining the health of our spinal discs is one of the best things we can do to help minimize our risk of living with chronic neck or back pain.

And if you’ve been living around chronic neck or back pain and thinking about seeking back pain chiropractic care in Singapore, you’re in the right place!

Let’s dive in for a closer look at the anatomy of a spinal disc.

The Basic Anatomy of a Spinal Disc
There are 23 discs to be exact - 6 in the neck, 12 in the mid-back, and 5 in the lower back. The average size of a spinal disc is about one inch in thickness and can vary in color from light yellow to dark brown.

As we mentioned earlier, they allow the spine to be flexible and also serve as its “shock absorbers,” helping to cushion the bones of the spine and keep them from grinding together.

When we break down the fundamental anatomy of a spinal disc, we know that each disc is made up of three core components: an outer layer, inner layer, and a pair of endplates that help hold the discs in place between each pair of vertebrae.

The tough, fibrous outer layer is referred to as the annulus fibrosus, and the jelly-like inner layer, the nucleus pulposus.

The nucleus pulposus helps to absorb shock and distribute pressure while the annulus fibrosus provides stability to the spine.

The relationship between these two layers can be compared, again, to a waterbed. The tough outer layer contains and protects the softer inside layer, which is mostly made up of - you guessed it  - water.

And it's the high water content of each disc that helps keep them supple and moveable.

However, as we get older, our spinal discs tend to gradually lose fluid, causing them to stiffen.

That, in turn, can mean our discs become more prone to inflammation.

Additionally - as you may have also guessed from knowing what you now know about the anatomy of a spinal disc - they can actually start to shrink which can lead to compression of the nerves running through the spine and some potentially painful symptoms.

The importance of keeping our spinal discs healthy really can’t be overstated enough!

Next Steps:

The good news? There’s good news!

Simple movement is actually one of the best ways to keep your spinal discs healthy.

One thing we know from looking at the anatomy of a spinal disc is that they don't have a particularly good blood supply.

Movement is how they bring in nutrients, and it’s those nutrients that help the discs stay healthy and push out waste that can contribute to the development of pain and inflammation.

So, make it a point to move more each day however you can - there’s no wrong way to do it!

And if your neck or back hurts, take 5 minutes for yourself, book an appointment, and let us know.

Our expert team specializes in back pain chiropractic care in Singapore, and, together, we'll help get your life back from pain!

Science Source:

Intervertebral Disc: Anatomy-Physiology-Pathophysiology-Treatment. Pain Practice. 2008.

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WEEK 2
How To Know if You Have a Spinal Disc Problem

When patients ask me for advice on how to know if you have a spinal disc problem, there’s a story that comes to mind every time.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine was over to help me out with one of my weekend projects.

He had been out with his family for some celebration - I don’t remember exactly what for - and the first thing he did was go into the bathroom to change.

Not 30 seconds later as I was getting some things together in the next room, I heard what I can only describe as a “yelp” come from the bathroom.

I rushed over, knocked on the door, and asked him if he was ok, to which he replied “I think I threw my back out! I felt a sharp pain in my low back while I was putting on my shirt, and I don’t think I can move!”

As I walked him out of the bathroom and over to the couch to take a look, he told me he was sure he had a “slipped disc” or something serious - that he needed to go to the ER right away.

As it turns out, he had only strained a muscle in his back, so while that project of mine had to be put on hold for a bit and he had to listen to a bite sized TED talk from me about how to know if you have a spinal disc problem, he was going to be fine.

Not only do a great deal many people think this is how a herniated disc would present, but they also think that a disc herniation automatically means they’re going to need some sort of surgical intervention.

And if you came across this post while looking up options for spinal disc treatment in Singapore, the good news is that, even when it comes to spinal disc injuries, that’s often not the case.

Bottom Line:

Now don’t get me wrong.

If you have a spinal disc problem rather than a back sprain or strain, that does not mean you won’t experience some level of chronic pain or discomfort.

Every movement can seem to hurt, and because of the chronic nature of that pain, it can feel like you'll never be back to your old self - and often times, you may not even know what happened!

Pain is the body’s way of signaling you to "pay attention inside now" -- it's a warning sign from your body.

Ultimately, it's your body's way of letting you know it’s been pushed past its limits.

And when it comes to back muscle sprains and strains and disc injuries alike, with the proper care and a little time, you can help the body heal more often than not without invasive measures.

So, the big question I want to cover here is how to know if you have a spinal disc problem.

Let’s dive in.

Why it Matters:

All disc injuries are not the same, and while there are cases where you can experience a sudden onset of pain, the way you experience that pain might not be what you expect.

As the go-to provider for non-surgical spinal disc treatment in Singapore, the most common type of spinal disc problem we see is indeed disc herniations.

These injuries most commonly occur in individuals between 45-65 years of age whose discs have naturally become more dehydrated and stiff.

When someone is diagnosed with a herniated or slipped disc, it means that one of their disc's inner layers has pushed through its tough outer layer.

On that same note, when someone is diagnosed with a bulging disc, it means that that inner layer is protruding and likely very near to penetrating that outer layer.

If you’re wondering how to know if you have a spinal disc problem, it helps to know that the pain most commonly presents in two ways:

  • If the disc bulges far enough to press on a spinal nerve, you may notice pain that travels down your arms or legs.
  • If the inside of your disc pushes through the outer layer, it could also cause severe inflammation resulting in pain.

How To Know if You Have a Spinal Disc Problem

Do you have a muscle sprain or strain in your back?

Or do you indeed have a disc issue?

The best way to know for sure is to, of course, make an appointment with us for a timely evaluation.

Our expert team specializes in non-invasive, natural spinal disc treatment in Singapore, and we do offer same day appointments for new and existing patients.

If for some reason you can’t see us right away - perhaps it’s late at night, you're traveling, or there’s some other reason - here are some key indicators often associated with either sprains and strains or disc injuries.

  • As is the case in the story I shared earlier, you’re most likely to experience a sprain or strain while or immediately after completing everyday tasks and movements. The pain can be intense and is often localized to the area of the back that was affected.
  • Disc injuries on the other hand might not be attributable to a specific event, and the associated pain or discomfort (numbness, tingling, or weakness) often tends to be referred to and felt in the arms or legs on one side of the body (though some pain may be felt in the back).

Now, we should note as we discuss how to know if you have a spinal disc problem here that there are occasions where disc herniations are asymptomatic, which is why we recommend keeping up on your adjustments even when you’re not in pain.

Next Steps:

Regardless of the type of back injury you experience, the good news is that your spine is incredibly resilient and very capable of healing without the need for invasive procedures, injections, and surgeries.

Research has indicated time and again that movement-based care like the spinal adjustments and spinal rehab we provide in-house can be incredibly effective at helping you heal from disc injuries.

And, well, we’ve all been there!

You don’t need to spend any more time Googling for an answer to the question of how to know if you have a spinal disc problem because you have us.

Just like our team is here for each other when we suffer a back injury, we’re here for you.

If you’ve been living with back pain or some pains and discomfort in an arm or leg that you just can’t seem to remedy, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and let us know.

We specialize in providing non-invasive spinal disc treatment in Singapore, and we’ll work with you to figure out what is at the root of that pain and to put together a plan to help you get out of pain and back to doing what you love, naturally.

Science Source(s):
Bulging Disk vs. Herniated Disk: What's the Difference? Mayo Clinic. 2022.
Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc. Spine-Health. 2021.

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WEEK 3
3 Key Ways to Prevent a Herniated, Bulging, or Slipped Disc

A neighbor of mine once told me “Getting old is not for the faint of heart,” and that’s always stuck with me.

After all, haven’t we all had one of those days where we wake up somehow having managed to injure ourselves in our sleep?

Or, if you’re like an old classmate of mine (who shall remain nameless), maybe there was a time you ate a big meal and a couple of hours later ended up taking yourself to the emergency room because you had not yet learned what heartburn felt like.

We’ve all been there.

And, like it or not, back pain is more likely than not something we’re all going to have to learn to prepare for and manage.

So, right here, right now, let’s start with lesson number one…

Simple ways to prevent a herniated disc.

Bottom Line:

Absolutely no one wants to deal with back pain.

Whether you’re living with pain today or looking to reduce your risk of injury and find ways to prevent a herniated disc in the future, you may be curious about how you can strengthen your spine.

And as the go-to provider of non-surgical spinal disc treatment in Singapore, we’re here to tell you that you’ve come to the right place!

When it comes to fortifying your spinal discs, it’s wise to start with the body’s core -- the set of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that support your spinal column and help your spinal discs move.

 

Why it Matters:

Your core needs to have a balance of strength and flexibility to perform at its best.

A strong core allows your body to have the support it needs to move, bend, and twist without causing injuries, and a flexible core is crucial to allowing the body to move well and through a full range of motion.

Together, these physical qualities help you keep your spinal discs healthy, just like movement-based care such as the adjustments we provide.

So, our top 3 ways to prevent a herniated disc include:

  1. Core exercises can help your back maintain a balance of strength and flexibility.
  2. Movement of the spine promotes the delivery of nutrients to the spinal discs.
  3. Spinal adjustments can improve your range of motion and help to decrease pain.

Ways to Prevent a Herniated Disc at Home

As noted in the list above, engaging in exercise to improve your core strength or to strengthen the abdominal, back extensor and rotator muscle groups can help you reduce your risk of spinal disc injury.

And in our time providing non-surgical spinal disc treatment in Singapore, we’ve seen first-hand just how much of a difference incorporating and prioritizing core work can make in our patients’ spinal health.

The stronger your core is, the less load your disc sees with activities of daily living, ultimately lessening the risk of herniation, which is why we compiled the following list of ways to prevent a herniated disc at home.

We recommend the following exercises and stretches below and aiming for 10 repetitions of each and then repeating each 2-3 times a week.

Planks

  1. Start in a push up position, bend your arms, and support your body with your forearms.
  2. Keep your hips, legs, and torso in a straight line while tightening your abdominal and glute muscles.
  3. Draw your core muscles in at the level of your belly button and hold that position as long as you can.

Bird Dogs

  1. Get on all fours, making sure your spine is neutral (not arching up or down).
  2. Then, engage your core muscles and slowly reach forward with your right arm as you extend your left leg behind you.
  3. Hold for a breath and then slowly return your limbs to the starting position.
  4. Repeat the exercise on the other side.

Glute Bridges

  1. Lie on your back with knees bent 90 degrees and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Engage the muscles of the deep core and move into a bridge position by lifting your bottom off the floor. Instead of forcing your belly up by arching your back, try to maintain the natural curve in your lower spine.
  3. Lift your left foot off the floor and extend your left leg to maintain a straight line through your left heel.
  4. Return your foot to the floor and repeat with your right leg.

Dead Bugs

  1. Begin lying on your back with both arms extended towards the ceiling.
  2. Lift your legs off the floor to 90 degrees.
  3. Exhale to bring your ribcage down and try to flatten your back onto the floor by rotating your pelvis upwards and bracing your core muscles (this is the starting position for this exercise that you need to hold throughout the movement).
  4. Start the exercise by extending your left leg, straightening at the knee and hip and bringing the leg down to just above the floor (don’t let your lower back arch).
  5. At the same time, lower your right arm back to just above the floor.
  6. Keep your abdominal and gluteal muscles tightened and return your left leg and right arm to the starting position.
  7. Repeat with your right leg and left arm.

Back Extensions

  1. Lie face down on a mat and place the hands on the floor or behind the head (more advanced).
  2. Contract the abs and keep them contracted throughout the exercise.
  3. Squeeze the back to lift the chest a few inches off the floor.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Knee-to-Chest Stretches

  1. Lie on the back with both legs flat against the floor.
  2. Lift the right leg, bending the knee toward the chest.
  3. Use both hands to pull the right knee toward the chest.
  4. Hold the right knee against the chest for several seconds.
  5. Return to the starting position.
  6. Repeat with the left leg and then return to the starting position.

Kneeling Back Stretches

  1. Begin the exercise on the hands and knees, positioning the knees hip-width apart, with the shoulders directly over the hands.
  2. Round the back, pulling the belly button up toward the spine and tilting the lower back toward the floor. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  3. Rock gently backward, lowering the buttocks as close as possible to the heels. Ensure that the arms are stretched out in front. Hold the position for 5 seconds.
  4. Rock gently back up to the starting position.

Modified Seat Side Straddle

  1. Sit on the floor with one leg extended to the side and the other leg bent.
  2. Keep your back straight and bend from your hips toward the foot of your straight leg. Reach your hands toward your toes and hold for 5 seconds.
  3. Slowly round your spine and bring your hands to your shin or ankle.
  4. Bring your head down as close to your knee as possible.
  5. Hold for 30 seconds and then relax for 30 seconds.

Repeat on the other side.

Next Steps:

It's been said that we don't get old and stiff, we get stiff then old.

The fundamental takeaway from our list of ways to prevent a herniated disc is that It’s much easier to keep your spine moving than to get your spine moving, and our practice is here to help you stay active, healthy, and happy!

If you’re ready to get serious about your spinal health or you’re looking for non-surgical spinal disc treatment in Singapore, reach out to us today to schedule a visit whether it’s been awhile since your last adjustment or it’s time for your first.

Our expert team will work with you to assess your movement and create a plan of action to keep you pain-free and at the top of your game for years to come.

Our doors are open, and we’re here for you!

Science Source(s):
Exercise and Physical Therapy for Treatment and Pain Management. Spine-Health. 2006.
Exercise for Sciatica from a Herniated Disc. Spine-Health. 2019.

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WEEK 4
Spinal Disc Health 101: The Proven Benefits of Proactive Care

“Move it or lose it!”

I’m not really sure where that started, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the person who originally coined that phrase was a chiropractor… thinking about spinal disc health and proactive care.

Seriously, It seems that so many of us just don’t realize movement can and is often the best medicine for the spine!

Did you know that our spinal discs actually don’t have a good blood supply running to and through them to help keep them healthy?

It’s actually movement - yes, movement - that drives the uptake of the vital fluids, oxygen, and nutrients that our discs need to maintain their optimal structure.

Bottom Line:

We’ve said it once, and we’ll say it again - absolutely no one has time for back pain.

After all, not many things can sideline you like a nagging, persistent, seemingly ever growing pain in and around your spine - you know, the core structure of your body that holds you upright and allows you to bend, twist, and move!

Every day, those tiny but mighty discs between the bones of your spine are absorbing the stress related to gravity, your posture, and your movement patterns.

Over time, this stress can cause wear and tear to your discs that can become painful when left unchecked.

Perhaps that’s why another chiropractor coined the saying “You’re only as old as your spine.”

 It’s one we certainly use frequently being the go-to chiropractor for herniated discs in Singapore.

A strong spine fortified with strong spinal discs will help you keep that back pain at bay.

And the good news is that spinal disc health and proactive care go hand in hand.

There are a few key ways you can keep your discs healthy from the comfort of your own home… starting today!

Why it Matters:

Not surprisingly, movement and exercise are perhaps the best ways to approach spinal disc health and proactive care.

There’s really no wrong way to get your daily dose of movement, but you will want to do what you can to ensure you’re moving well.

After all, you don’t want to trade one type of back pain for another!

Spinal Disc Health and Proactive Care

Each day, try to stay active, move your spine through its full range of motion, and, as always, be cautious about sitting for hours on end.

If you do have to sit for long periods, try to change positions every 15 minutes. And if you have to work at a computer for hours at a time and you have the option, bring in a standing desk.

These small steps can help both reduce stress on your discs and engage the small muscles supporting your spine – both of which are essential for disc health.

Also, when it comes to spinal disc health and proactive care, something we feel the need to stress based on what we’ve seen first-hand as the go-to local chiropractor for herniated discs in Singapore is to always, always mind your posture.

The combination of inactivity and long periods in an unbalanced posture can wreak havoc on your spinal discs.

Here are a few other easy adjustments you can make to proactively protect your discs:

  • Practice safe lifting. Improperly lifting any object of any size places undue stress on your spine. Remember to avoid bending while lifting, to use your legs rather than your back, to use a buddy when needed, and to always try to hold items close to your body.
  • Exercise consistently. In addition to getting that daily dose of movement, incorporating exercises designed to improve the strength and flexibility of the muscles in your core and back that support the spine can make all the difference to your spinal health.
  • Rethink your sleeping position. On top of minding what we’ll call your daytime posture, it’s important to do the same when you sleep. Aim to avoid sleeping on your stomach and make sure to replace old or worn out mattresses when needed.
  • Rethink your shoes. High-heeled shoes in particular can make it harder to maintain proper posture.
  • De-stress regularly. Be sure to find time to relax and unwind so the stress of the day doesn’t turn into physical tension in your neck, shoulders, and back.

 
Next Steps:

As you can probably tell from that list, keeping your spinal discs healthy is one of the best things you can do to reduce your risk of experiencing neck or back pain.

If you spend long hours at the computer, you’ll want to take proactive steps to counteract that stress.

When it comes to spinal disc health and proactive care, following the steps outlined above is a great place to start.

Keeping up on those adjustments and regularly checking in with our expert team is even better, especially if you’re looking for a chiropractor for herniated discs in Singapore.

And get this. Adjustments are actually a great way to help your muscles relax.

When a muscle is stretched quickly, the nerves in the muscle respond by causing the muscle to relax. This reflex protects the muscles from tearing during any quick stretch.

A chiropractic adjustment does not go nearly deep enough to risk tearing muscles, and it activates those same nerve impulses that make the muscles relax.

So, whether it’s been some time since your last adjustment or you’re ready for your first, we hope you’ll give us a call.

We’d be happy to work with you to keep your spinal discs healthy for years to come!

 
Science Source:

Disc Changes Associated with Prolonged Sitting. PMR. 2014.