Disc herniation and other problems. Optimal Chiropractic in Post Falls.
There are many contributing causes to low back pain. One of the most common or most talked about is a disc bulge or disc herniation of the lumbar spine. There are significant differences when it comes to injury and the severity of damage that can be done to the discs, which we will discuss in more depth.
To make things simple, discs in the spine are made of 2 different materials. The inner portion, called the nucleus, is a “jelly-like” material which is held in place by the outer layer. The outer portion, also known as the annulus, is made up of multiple layers of thick fibers surrounding the nucleus. The fibers of the outer layer are strong, however, can become easily damaged with certain injuries.
A disc bulge and a disc herniation are NOT the same thing. A disc bulge occurs when pressure or compression is applied to the spine. The nucleus remains in the center, protected by the outer layer. Imagine squeezing a balloon between 2 blocks, the more pressure that is applied, the thinner the disc becomes. It may also bulge out in different directions depending where the pressure is applied (front, back, center). A disc herniation can occur from the same types of injuries as a bulge, but the severity of the injury is worse. In the situation of a disc herniation, the inner nucleus will actually tear through the outer layers of the annulus.
There are 4 different stages severity when it comes to disc injury. The first stage is a bulging disc, as described above. The second is a disc prolapse, or a disc protrusion, where the nucleus material has torn through multiple layers but is still contained. The third stage, known as an extrusion, occurs when the nucleus completely tears through the outer layer. The final stage is called a sequestration. In this case, small pieces of the nucleus may become separated from the rest of the disc and be “floating” in the spinal canal.
So how common is disc injury anyway? One study published by the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 98 individuals who were asymptomatic (no back pain), and performed MRI examinations on the lumbar spine. The study showed that 64% of those in the study had some type of disc injury. Out of that who had damage, there were 52% with disc bulge at 1 level, 27% had protrusion, and 1 % had extrusion. 38% of those with disc injury had an abnormality at MORE THAN ONE disc of the spine. Did we mention these people had NO PAIN?!
Spinal health and mobility is very important to the overall health of an individual. Joint restriction and compression can lead to significant damage, which can lead to pain and dysfunction. If YOU are ready to take charge of your health and care for your spine, contact Optimal Chiropractic in Post Falls for more information.
Also, here’s an article from the New England Journal of Medicine about the study on the Lumbar Spine for people with low back pain – http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199407143310201#t=article