Spinal intervertebral discs are rubbery, circular pads that can be found between the specialized bones called vertebrae. They consist of an gel-like core, or nucleus pulposus, as well as fibrous outer layers (or annulus fibrosus). Each disc functions by separating your spine’s vertebrae and acting as the shock absorbers between them.
Your discs allow for movement of your spine in all directions; bending forward and back, bending side to side and also rotation.
Have you ever noticed your back getting stiff after sitting for too long? This is because the discs that are present in between each of your vertebrae can become less pliable as a person ages. The discs tend to lose their height and flexibility and can wear out over time. Added wear and tear on the spinal discs can cause the discs to deteriorate faster.
As noted above, spinal discs can wear out over time. The process of wear and tear causing arthritis is known and degenerative disc disease. The fibers of the intervertebral discs can wear out and break down, causing some weakness and instability in the area of the spine. Over time, arthritis can cause reduced flexibility and even inflammation in an area.
An acute injury to a disc is usually caused by a sudden force, such as a car accident. Like other soft tissues of the body, the disc can tear and cause immediate pain and swelling. This can result in lack of mobility, ongoing symptoms and even radiating symptoms into the arms or legs, from involved nerves.
Nerve pain can begin when the gel-like center of a disc presses directly onto an adjacent nerve. Sciatica, for example, is a condition that affects the sciatic nerve in the buttock and leg and can send pain, numbness, tingling or even weakness into the lower extremity.
There’s also a condition called herniated disc, which is a result of tearing or rupturing of a disc’s outer portion. In some cases, a herniated disc can lead to a pinched nerve that may cause numbness, pain, weakness, or tingling in the legs or arms.
Once the condition is identified, your chiropractor will lay out the different treatments and therapies that are best suited for your spinal disc problem. The procedure will, of course, depend on the condition that you have, and how severe it is. There may be times when you will be recommended a conservative treatment plan and other times when more aggressive treatment options are necessary.
If you’re suffering from muscle spasm, a muscle relaxant will help. Speak with your chiropractor and be sure to tell him or her all the symptoms and discomforts that you are experiencing so that they can all be addressed as necessary.
Physical treatments may be necessary including chiropractic care, stretching, strengthening and icing or heating an area.
In most cases, surgery isn’t required and conservative treatment can go a long way to resolve the issue. This is why it’s vital that you’re able to tell when there is already something wrong with your body. Your chiropractor can recommend the treatment option that is best suited for your particular problem.
Spinal disc injuries may be prevented or at least reduced if you know the right steps to take. Make sure to always keep a correct posture, not only for the sake of preventing spinal disc problems but also other possible back injuries. Regular exercise also helps in strengthening your back muscles and core stomach. Stretching is also important to keep flexibility in the region of your spine.