What are discs and what do they do?
Between your spinal bones (vertebrae) are flexible, gel-like pads called “discs” that give your spine its curves and flexibility (a curved, flexible spine is much stronger that a straight rigid one). Research is reveling that spinal discs are involved in lower back pain.(1-3)
As you age, your discs may lose fluid and small cracks or lesions may form in the outer walls.(4) This damage may also be caused or accelerated by the presence of subluxations, a distortion in your structural system that chiropractors correct. Your disc may bulge, irritate nerves and cause a lot of pain and discomfort. In severe cases, disc damage may affect sitting, standing, walking or lifting and cause pain when urinating, defecating, sneezing and coughing. Numbness of the leg or foot or a loss of muscular control may occur.
Do you have a slipped disc?
A disc cannot “slip” since it is knitted into the vertebrae from both above and below. What sometimes do slip are the vertebrae. Many “slipped” discs would be more accurately called slipped vertebrae or subluxations.
Disc degeneration may lead to irritation of spinal nerves and contribute to endometriosis, infections (bladder and kidney), urinary retention, prostate problems, miscarriage, sterility, impotence, cystitis, menstrual cramps and constipation. It is not uncommon for an individual with a back condition to also suffer from one or more of the above symptoms.(5)
Is back surgery effective?
According to Robert Mendelsohn, MD, “I have seen more than one case in which spinal surgery was avoided by individuals who decided to see a chiropractor...” Many have followed his advice to avoid surgery.(6)
Back surgery for herniation should only be attempted as a last resort. That is because back surgery is a dangerous procedure with a high failure rate. In many people the disc is not causing the pain; many people have disc degeneration with no symptoms!(7)
The Chiropractic Record
For many years chiropractic has been able to save people from spinal surgery. There are reports of MRI or other imaging device revealing a disc herniation or protrusion on the neck or low back which was reduced or completely reabsorbed under chiropractic care. Had they not sought out chiropractic, many of these individuals undoubtedly would have had surgery.(8-13)
In one study, 27 patients documented with disc herniation were given chiropractic care. Post-care MRIs revealed that 63% of the patients had a reduced or completely reabsorbed disc herniation and 78% returned to work.(14)
In another study, 21 patients were diagnosed by CT scan with lumbar disc herniation. After chiropractic their pain disappeared and follow-up scans six months later showed the herniation had reduced or disappeared in most patients.15 In another study of 517 patients with protruded lumbar discs, 76.8% had satisfactory results under chiropractic.(16)
Is surgery ever needed?
Surgery is sometimes necessary, but it is an extreme form of healthcare and it has many dangers. Many times spinal surgery fails and must be repeated. It should only be considered after more natural, less invasive methods have been given a fair chance.(17)
How to prevent disc problems
Chiropractic has been a blessing to many sufferers of spine and disc problems, yet chiropractic is not limited to back and disc problems; it is for your entire body. Many times patients visiting their chiropractor for back and neck problems have been pleasantly surprised at the holistic or whole-body effect of chiropractic. Why wait until a disc becomes “hot” before exploring chiropractic care?
Chiropractic care may help prevent your spine from deterioration and herniation. Chiropractors have even helped people relieve the pain and frustration of failed back surgery (yes, you can receive chiropractic care if you’ve had spinal surgery) and even prevent future operations. Please, before your problems get worse, have a simple chiropractic spinal checkup.
You get your eyes, teeth, and blood pressure checked, why not your spine?
1. Bogduk N, Aprill C. On the nature of neck pain, discography and cervical zygapophyseal joint blocks. Pain. 1993;54;213-217
2. Kuslich S et al. The tissue origin of low back pain and sciatica; a report of pain response to tissue stimulation during operations on the lumbar spine. Orthopedic Clinics of North America. 1991;22(2);181-187
3. Carragee E et al. 2000 Volvo Award winner in clinical studies; lumbar high density zones and discography in subjects without low back pain complaints. Spine. 2000; 25(23);2987-2992.
4. Lundon K, Bolton K. Structure and function of the lumbar intervertebral disc in health, aging and pathologic conditions. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2001; 31 (6);291-303.
5. Browning JF. The mechanically induced pelvic pain and organic dysfunction syndrome; an often overlooked cause of bladder, bowel, gynecological and sexual dysfunction. J of the Neuromusculoskeletal System. 1996;4:52-66.
6. Menelsohn R. Malpractice: How Doctors Manipulate Women. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc., 1981
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8. Erikson K. Management of cervical disc herniation with upper cervical chiropractic care. JMPT. 1998:21(1).
9. Ressel OJ. Disc regeneration: reversibility is possible in spinal osteoarthritis. ICA Review. March/April 1989:39-61.
10. Robinson GK. Reabsorption of a herniated cervical disc following chiropractic treatment utilizing the atlas orthogonal technique: a case report. Abstracts from the 14th Annual Upper Cervical Spine Conferences, Nov. 22-23, 1997. Life University, Marietta GA. Chiropractic Research J. 1998;5(1).
11. Hession EF, Donald GD. Treatment of multiple lumbar disc herniations in an adolescent athlete utilizing flexion distraction and rotational manipulation. JMPT. 1996;19(19).
12. Legorreta AP, Metz RD, Nelson CF et al. Comparative analysis of individuals with and without chiropractic coverage; patient characteristics, utilization, and costs. Arch Intern Med. 2004; 164:1985-1992.
13. Breakron G. Chiropractic adjustments, cervical traction and rehabilitation correct cervical spine herniated disc. Chiropractic Case Reports. 1993;1(1).
14. Ben Eliyahu DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging and clinical follow-up: study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniations. JMPT. 1996;19(19).
15. Delauche-Cavallier MC, Budet C, Laredo JD et al. Lumbar disc herniation: computed tomography scan changes after consecutive treatment of nerve root compression. Spine. 1992;17(8):927-933.
16. Pang-Fu Kuo P, Loh Z. Treatment of lumbar intervertebral disc protrusions by manipulation. Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research. 1987;215:47-55.
17. Abbasi A, Malhotra G et al. Complications of interlaminar cervical epidural steroid injections: a review of the literature. Spine. 2007;32(19):2144-2155.
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