A better understanding of your disc problems

A better understanding of your disc problems

Monday, December 9, 2019

You may often hear your chiropractor speak about spinal disc problems.

But what are they actually talking about?

To understand the nature of the disc problems, it is necessary to understand the functions of the discs!

Inter-vertebral discs are structures located between the spinal bones (vertebrae). They act as shock absorbers for the spine, preventing contact between the vertebrae and providing adequate space for the nerves to exit.

In scientific terms there is no such thing as a ‘slipped’ disc!

Discs are well secured to a cartilage pad and then attached to the vertebral bones above and below.

A ‘slipped’ disc is simply a popular term for either a protruding disc or bulging disc, or a ruptured (prolapsed) disc. Spinal troubles can cause debilitating pain but with some basic understanding of the causes of disc troubles, a lot can be avoided.

What does a normal disc look like?

Each disc is made up of two parts. An outer ring - the annulus fibrosis - a tough substance forming the outer two thirds of the disc and the nucleus pulposis - a jelly like centre. 

The front wall of the annulus is much thicker than the back, thanks mainly to supporting ligaments, which act as a restraining force for the front portion of the disc. The central nucleus is pushed the opposite way to which the spine bends during movement, like the way a waterbed displaces to the other side when a person lies on it. 

Discs make up approximately one quarter of the height of the spinal column. They are in their best condition at birth. Discs are slightly larger in the morning after sleeping because they have absorbed fluid whilst you have been lying down. As the day progresses gravity compresses the disc causing it to become slightly thinner. This is why you are taller in the morning! 

Disc Degeneration 

Over the years everyday wear and tear causes degeneration, or narrowing, of the disc.

This is further compounded with injury. The constant workload causes the disc to reduce in thickness. It is estimated that once you have reached sixty years of age you will be about three centimetres shorter than at your maximum height. Degeneration can have a major influence on the size of the opening between the vertebrae through which the nerves pass. 

Protruding and Bulging Discs

Everyday stresses, combined with injuries and poor spinal maintenance, can cause the outer annulus to weaken.

The nucleus may then push on the outer ring, breaking some fibres, allowing the annulus to bulge out. A bulge can be large enough to compress and irritate the nerve root as it branches off the spinal cord. The resulting 'nerve root compression' can cause pain, both at the site of the nerve compression and also in the area that the nerve supplies. The latter is known as 'referred' pain. However it is possible to have a disc bulge which does not produce any symptoms but is indicative of degenerative changes. 

Your disc problems can have a prolapse! 

Be aware of your discs rupturing!

If damage to the annulus (the outer ring) is severe enough, the nucleus (jelly centre) can actually rupture through the annulus into the spinal canal, pressing on the spinal nerves or spinal cord. This may also cause spinal nerve root compression. 

Spinal nerves are extremely sensitive to pressure, which is why you need chiropractic care to maintain proper disc biomechanics. Disc troubles can be further prevented by having strong abdominal muscles, utilising prop lifting techniques, and avoiding repetitive twisting motions. 

Seeking Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care can be a valuable option for those experiencing spinal disc problems such as a herniated lumbar disc or degenerative disc disease.

If you are experiencing pain in your lower back or neck due to a herniated disc, it may be time to consider seeking care from a chiropractor. Chiropractors are trained to identify and treat issues related to the intervertebral disc and lumbar spine, offering nonsurgical treatment options for conditions like a bulging disc or herniated lumbar disc.

Disc material that causes a herniated disc can put pressure on nerves and lead to discomfort, making it important to address any disc problems promptly. By working with a chiropractor, you can develop a personalized treatment plan to alleviate disc pain and strengthen your back muscles. Chiropractic care for spinal disc problems can include spinal adjustments, therapy, massage, and exercises to help improve mobility, reduce inflammation, and relieve pain.

Consulting a chiropractor about your spine

It is important to consult with a chiropractor who has experience in treating disc problems to ensure that you receive appropriate care tailored to your specific needs.

Chiropractors focus on restoring proper alignment and function to the spine, which can help alleviate pressure on the affected discs. They may also provide advice on ergonomics, posture, and lifestyle changes to prevent future disc issues.

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective alternative to surgery or medication for many patients with spinal disc issues. However, it is important to discuss your condition with your healthcare provider to determine if chiropractic care is a suitable option for you. 


What role do spinal discs play in the body?

Spinal discs act as shock absorbers, cushioning the vertebrae and allowing flexibility in the spine. They help maintain the structural integrity of the spinal canal and play a vital role in supporting body movement and preventing injury. Common disc problems include disc herniation, degeneration, and rupture.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

Symptoms of a herniated disc may include back pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness along the affected nerve pathway. This can lead to pain or discomfort in the lower back or legs.

How is a disc herniation diagnosed?

Diagnosis of a disc herniation typically involves a physical examination, imaging tests such as MRI or CT scans, and evaluation of symptoms like nerve root compression that may cause pain and numbness.

What causes disc degeneration?

Disc degeneration is often attributed to wear and tear over time, leading to a breakdown in the structural integrity of the intervertebral discs. Factors like aging, genetics, and repetitive stress can contribute to this condition.

How can disc problems be treated?

Treatment options for disc problems may include chiropractic care, medication, nonsurgical interventions, and in severe cases, surgery to address issues such as disc herniation or ruptured discs. The choice of treatment depends on the severity and symptoms.

Your Local Chiropractor For Disc Troubles

Contact us as your local chiropractor

If you’re experiencing spinal disc troubles consider booking an appointment with us, Centenary Chiropractic Centre, as your local chiropractor for Camira and surrounding areas. Give us a call on 073381 0440 or book online at www.centenarychiro.com.au


Dr. Steve Hodal is committed to providing high-quality, individualized chiropractic care in a comfortable and relaxed environment. He is dedicated to providing evidence-based treatments that are tailored to each patient’s individual needs, allowing them to achieve optimal health and wellbeing. Contact us to know more about this disorder or Book Online.