The rubbery cartilage between the vertebrae bones are called discs, they act like shock absorbers and allow flexibility and bending of the neck and back. Discs are complex structures, made of a gelatinous core (nucleus pulposus) surrounded by a collagen fiber cartilage (annulus fibrosus), this outer part is very tough, acts like a strong radial tire. Discs are avascular, meaning they have no blood supply, when you bend and move normally, you “pump” the discs and they can absorb the water, oxygen, and nutrients they need to stay plump and healthy.
Over time, from wear and tear (more like use and abuse!), injuries or traumas, repetitive movements such as in sports or at work, poor posture, our own body weight vs gravity, and even stress, the intervertebral disc’s condition can deteriorate, loose cushioning, fragment, tear, and/or herniate. This is degenerative disc disease or spinal arthritis, pretty much the same thing. This only happens when you have lack of motion in the vertebrae.
Doctors say that DDD is “age related” it’s not, it’s TIME related which is not the same thing. You don’t have to be “old”to have it; you only need damage + lack of movement for a long period of time, which is anywhere from 5+ years. If that happens to you while you are a child or teenager from a car accident, sports injury, falling off your bike or trampoline really hard, for example, and it causes a subluxation (a bone that is misaligned and stuck), 10 years later you could be 20 or 30 years old and already have this degenerative disc disease in at least one segment.
Damage on a disc can result in back pain and can also radiate to the upper and lower extremities (arms and legs) as pain, numbness, muscle weakness, or lack of function, all of which are nerve related symptoms, even skin sensation changes on arms and legs (called dermatomes). Symptoms usually worsen when standing or sitting, with movements or activity. Unfortunately, if left untreated, the condition only gets worse with time, the disc dehydrates, almost to the point of collapsing, putting more pressure on the nerves, and triggering the bone to lay calcium deposits around the weaken area as defense mechanism (known as arthritic changes, bone spurs, or bone degeneration).
Diagnostic testing such as x-ray and MRI are necessary to determine the level of damage in the disc, it also helps estimate more accurately the type and length of care needed.
Unfortunately nothing can reverse disc disease or spinal arthritis back to normal, we can only stop the deterioration from continuing. ADJUSTMENTS STOP IT, because your normal motion is restored and the pumping action can now resume, keeping the disc from further deterioration. So chiropractic slows down this progressive diseaseor better yet prevents it in the first place.
The goal of chiropractic care for disc issues is to improve joint mechanics by improving spinal motion and reducing inflammation and work on improving the function of the intervertebral discs.
To help treat disc symptoms, the chiropractor uses spinal manipulation (also called spinal adjustment) and specialized techniques, in addition to physical therapy, such as ultrasound therapy, electrical muscle stimulation and ice, cold laser therapy, and manual therapy followed by therapeutic procedures down the road.
This is why we preach maintenance chiropractic care. This happens silently, when you come in for pain relief continue afterwards once a month to keep your spine moving normally so your body can keep your precious discs healthy.
If you or someone you know can benefit from this information, please share this with them, and remember, we are here to help and any questions are always welcome, feel free to call our office and speak to Dr. Fulcher or one his assistants directly at 972-424-2225.