Your spine is incredibly important and complex, and the pain that a problem with any one area can cause can be excruciating. Damage to the vertebral discs can occur in many ways. Traumatic impact or injury such as a car accident or excessive lifting can cause problems with your spine. As time passes deterioration can cause progressive injury and pain as well.
The shock absorbers located between the vertebrae are called vertebral discs. The discs are made of collagen and are harder on the exterior and softer on the interior. As the body ages the discs become harder and provide less of a cushion as the water contained in the disc is slowly lost. The disc is supported by ligaments. There are very few nerve endings in vertebral discs, blood supply is also low in the discs, meaning they are unable to repair themselves.
There are two common disc disorders, classified as contained or non-contained discs. If the disc is contained, is is basically in tact but it is protruding into an area that it should not be in. A disc is non-contained if it has ruptured. Non-contained discs can also protrude. Pain can also occur in the disc space; if the disc has degenerated this area is often painful.
A bulging disc is a good example of a contained disc. The disc may push on the spinal cord and cause problems. A herniated disc is a non-contained disc.
A herniated disc is an issue that has progressed passed a contained disc. It has ruptured and is probably leaking fluid into the soft tissues of the spinal cord. The tissues, including nerves, are irritated by the fluid and swell. Sometimes pieces of the shell of the disc can break loose and drift into the spinal canal.
Herniated discs usually occur in the lumbar region, the lower back. If the disc is pressing on a nerve root you may experience weakness in other areas of the body, including the legs, rear, and feet. Numbness and pain are also common in these areas. Sometimes people with a herniated disc actually feel pain in other areas only, and do not feel back pain.
If the herniated disc is higher along the spine, in the cervical spine, pain will often radiate down the arm and into the hands. Numbness and pain can be felt from the neck and shoulder down to the fingertips, and sometimes the arm will feel weak.
It is very important for your doctor to identify exactly what is occurring in order to apply appropriate treatment. Dr. Elsey will discuss your symptoms, your history, and run any necessary diagnostic tests to determine the source of the pain and begin addressing the issue.
Chiropractic manipulation is a safe, gentle, effective way to address damage to discs. If you or a loved one are suffering from pain call our office. We will help you determine the problem, form a treatment plan, and get you back to normal as quickly as possible.