What are common Disc Problems?

Body Health Blog

As Vancouver's Sports Chiropractor, Armitage & Associates is committed to helping you maximize your performance potential. These articles are provided to help you understand muscle and joint behavior, prevent injury, and aid recover from common activity-related injuries.


What are common Disc Problems?

A Disc does not slip

Since spinal discs have a very poor blood supply, they also depend upon the circulation of joint fluids to bring in nutrients and expel waste. If a spinal joint loses its normal motion and this pumping action is impaired, the health of the disc deteriorates. Like a wet sponge, a healthy disc is flexible. A dry sponge is hard stuff, and can crack easily. This is how many disc problems begin.

Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebra above and below it, a disc cannot “slip” as a commonly thought, However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to bulge, herniate, or worse, rupture. This can be quite painful, putting pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots, often interfering with their function.

The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to help restore better motion and position to the spinal joints. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps decrease pain and inflammation so the slow process of healing the surrounding soft tissues can begin.

While results cannot be guaranteed, many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills by choosing conservative chiropractic care.

Disc Tear

The most common disc injury is a small crack or micro tear in the tough, outer cartilage material of the disc called annular fibers. These small tears result in the production of inflammation causing pain and muscle spasm. It is the accumulation of these small tears (with recurrent episodes of back and neck pain, sometimes noted as only morning stiffness) that begin the progression of degenerative disc disease (See Desiccated disc).

Bulging Disc

The soft jelly like material in the middle of the disc pushes to one side, forward or backward because of the weakened or torn annular fibers of the disc and swelling occurs. The nucleus is still contained within the touch outer fibres of the disc, but can still cause pressure and painful symptoms.

Herniated Disc

The soft jelly like material from the nucleus in the middle of the disc ruptures through the tears in the tough, inner fibres of the annulus and extends to the outer edge, or beyond the normal limits of the disc.

Prolapsed or Sequestrated Disc

A piece of disc material separates away and becomes a fragment or a free-floating piece.

Desiccated Disc

As part of the healing process, your body begins to replace the torn and damaged fifers and cells of the disc with scar tissue. The production of scar tissue is stimulated by the inflammatory response. This is the same inflammation that stimulates stiffness, pain and muscle spasms. As a cumulative result of multiple episodes of minor injury OR an over production of inflammation, the scar tissue becomes layered and thickened. The scar tissue causes the disc to loose its ability to maintain its fluid content. As this degeneration occurs, the disc and vertebra of your spine begin to have the roughened or worn down appearance seen on spinal X-Rays, CT or MRI scans (known as osteoarthritis).


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