Research shows that 50% of the population has some sort of disc bulge or disc herniation. Not all of them are symptomatic and it can happen in young and old. How do you even know if you have a ruptured disc or disc degeneration?
What kind of pain will you have with disc bulge or ruptured discs?
Some of the symptoms, if it's in your neck, you're going to have neck pain, you could have shoulder, elbow or wrist pain. You could have shooting pain going down the arm, weakness in grip, or weakness in the strength in your shoulders. We can have low back pain. We can have pain that radiates down in the buttocks, down to the legs, numbness or tingling in the feet, hip, knee or ankle problems.
What are discs?
Now, your discs are kind of like a jelly donut. So, they're going to have an outer part that keeps the filling in, and the filling is going to be considered your nucleus. The outer part is going to be your tough fibers that keep it in place. As there is restriction in motion in the spine, the real motion of the joint actually is what keeps the disc full of fluid or keeps the jelly inside. Now, when your bones move and glide like they're supposed to when they're in proper alignment, what it does is that pumping motion keeps that 80% fluid nice and hydrated. It keeps a nice full disc for that cushion. Now, as our spine misaligns, what it does is it restricts joint motion. And when the joint motion is restricted, that lack of motion starts to dehydrate your discs. And as that jelly donut gets shorter, and the inside gets lesser the jelly, then what happens is, is that we lose some of that shock absorber and the outer part of the donut becomes basically soft and brittle. So, as time goes on with a donut, it starts off hard but then it gets all soggy. So, that's kind of what happens to the outer fibers. They become weak and brittle, and then they can tear a few at a time.
What are the symptoms of a ruptured disc?
Whenever the disc does become weak and brittle because of that lack of motion, it's kind of like a rubber band if you leave it out in the sunshine. What it does is it will become weak and brittle, and it tears real easy. Now, when these fibers tear, what it does is it releases an inflammatory chemical and it can cause a lot of pain. Sometimes, lasts for three days, sometimes, lasts for a week, and especially when it causes inflammation of the nerves and the nerve roots surrounding the area. And this can be from something as simple as bending up and picking up a T-shirt. A lot of times, people think disc injuries are from trauma but if there is degeneration there, all it takes is something as simple as picking up a T shirt. And when they tear, it doesn't always cause a bulge right away, because you'll see there is a lot of different layers to this outer part, but what will happen is this will happen every few months and then even every few weeks and then boom, when it lasts longer than a week, that's when you know it's more of a ruptured disc and it's more of a disc injury.
What is a ruptured disc?
So, a ruptured disc is actually when that jelly starts to push out through the outer coat. And so, it can be a ruptured disc or a herniated disc. So, a ruptured disc is when the actual nucleus or the soft inner core starts to break through some of the tough fibers, but it doesn't go out all the way through the outer layer. A herniated disc is going to be more when it actually goes through all of the layers, and breaks out of that tough outer layer and then that's when it can become more...cause more pressure on the nerve and cause nerve roots. Now, both...nerve root pain. Now, both bulges and herniations, whether they're inside or outside, can cause pain, but they don't always do. But when they do, that's when it actually compresses the nerve or nerve root around that area, and that can cause localized or radiating pain.
How can I prevent a ruptured disc?
What you can do is it all starts with improper motion in the spine. So, if we have the improper motion, how do we get it? Spinal adjustments. So, if you keep your body in proper alignment, you get really good motion in those joints, and that keeps the discs hydrated. It's also important to stretch, maintain core strength, maintain strength of your paraspinal muscles. Keep moving. The worst thing for you is to stop moving. And then the last thing is you have to have proper nutrition as well, because if the chemistry's off in the body, what it's going to do is going to decrease your healing capacity as well. So, when we do have these minor injuries to the disc, they don't heal and that's when it creates a bigger snowball effect to where you do get to a herniation or a rupture.
How can Sandstone Chiropractic help?
So, what we can do at Sandstone to help you with your disc degeneration and ruptured disc is that we can do chiropractic adjustments. That restores motion to the spine. We can also use our Class 4 Laser which helps to decrease pain and inflammation. It helps to heal the surrounding soft tissues with the discs, the ligaments and the muscles. It heals the body three to four times faster than your body does on its own. We also have decompression therapy. And decompression was designed by a neurosurgeon for those non-surgical disc cases to help get the disc bulge and herniation pulled off of those nerve roots that are causing your pain. We also do magnetic field therapy, and magnetic field therapy helps to stimulate the body's healing process as well, by stimulating the mitochondria. It just promotes the healing process and decreases inflammation for you as well. I hope this video really helped you learn a little bit more about disc degeneration and ruptured disc. And if you are experiencing any of the symptoms we discussed at the beginning of the video or you're concerned about the health of your disc, we're always here to help you here at Sandstone.