Back or disc pain is becoming increasingly common for individuals of all ages. The spinal discs are prone to injury because of the extreme amount of pressure/stress placed on the lower back and neck. Fortunately, most cases of back pain heal on their own, while others can cause long-term chronic pain that can be difficult to manage, without proper treatment.
Different types of pain can be caused by problems with the spinal discs. The spinal discs are elastic sections of the spine that sit between the vertebrae. They are made up of materials called annulus fibrosus on the outside and a gel-like material called nucleus pulposus on the inside.
These discs are flexible, which allows for a range of motion to the spine and body shock absorption to increase comfort when in motion. When an individual visits a chiropractor, the practitioner will not know the exact cause of the pain, but only that it hurts around a certain area. Our spinal experts will help individuals understand the different types of ailments or conditions that could be affecting the spine. Then a customized treatment plan can be developed.
Spinal disc pain has two major sources of pain related to spinal discs: They are disc degeneration and nerve root pain. They are most common in the neck and the lower back. Individuals need to be informed of the difference to understand what is happening with the spine and potential treatment options to alleviate the pain and heal the problem.
Degenerative disc disease
Degenerative disc disease is when the spinal discs begin to dry out and deteriorate. The discs start to shrink and can tear, which leaves that segment with little or no cushioning. This can cause pain, as well as inflammation of the surrounding muscles and joints. Disc degeneration usually presents with low levels of consistent pain and occasional severe flare-ups.
A chiropractor can utilize spinal manipulation to restore alignment, function, and mobility of the affected joint. Massages stretches and exercises will help alleviate the tension in the surrounding muscles along with strengthening them for better support.
Nerve root pain
Nerve root pain does not take place within the disc but is usually caused by a bulging or herniated disc. This condition can be called a slipped disc or pinched nerve, affect the nerves that are in close proximity to the neck and lower vertebrae.
The pain can lead to numbness, tingling, and weakness along the path of the nerve, and radiate out to the arms and legs. A bulging disc is when the spinal disc progressively protrudes through a narrow opening.
This can irritate any nearby nerve roots causing inflammation and pain. If the disc herniates or breaks through then the outer protective material tears, letting the cushion/gel leak out and come in contact with the nerve root/s, which could also cause pinching and inflammation. Treatment for a bulging or herniated disc includes:
- Spinal manipulation
- Corrective exercises
- Physical therapy
- Diet adjustments
These treatments can help realign the disc/s, moving them away from any nerves, and minimizing inflammation.
Proper Identification and Diagnosis
Spinal disc problems can be similar in their pain and symptoms. For example, degenerative disc disease can weaken the spinal discs to such a degree that nerve root pain follows creating a dual combination of pain. The conditions require various approaches and treatment methods often done in combination. However, they require a proper diagnosis to create a proper and custom treatment program for every individual. This will ensure the root cause of the disc pain is properly identified and handled. Call us to learn more.
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Browning, J E. “Chiropractic distractive decompression in the treatment of pelvic pain and organic dysfunction in patients with evidence of lower sacral nerve root compression.” Journal of manipulative and physiological therapeutics vol. 11,5 (1988): 426-32.