When told they have a lower back spinal disc herniation, bulge, or protrusion many people automatically think they need surgery. Nothing could be further from the truth. Research studies are showing chiropractic care to be much more effective than surgery in the treatment of disc conditions.
The spinal discs are pads which sit between the bones of the spine. The spinal bones are called vertebrae. The discs provide much of the flexibility of the spine. Without the discs the spine would be a rigid column of bone incapable of bending. It is the combined flexibility of the 23 spinal discs that allow for movements.
The mobility that the spinal discs add to the spinal column is, however, not without some drawbacks. By being soft and therefore flexible, the spinal discs are prone to “wear and tear” with time and aging. This is especially likely if the spinal vertebral bones above and below the discs are misaligned and moving improperly.
When discs wear they become weak and a part of the disc may “herniate”, “bulge”, or “protrude” back towards the nerves of the spine. If a disc has had wear and tear over a long period of time it can “degenerate” and become narrowed.
Surprisingly, however, research studies are showing that just because the disc is herniated, bulged, or degenerated it may not be the source or true cause of low back or leg pain. For instance, a study of adults who did not have or never had back pain was performed at The Department of Orthopedic surgery at George Washington University. Researchers found abnormal discs on CT Scans in 35% of all age groups. In those under 40 years of age, disc abnormalities were found in approximately 20% of the cases. In those people over 40 years old, disc problems were found in 50% of the cases! Obviously, this shows that many people have abnormal discs but they may never experience any pain from the disc.
So, if an abnormal disc isn’t necessarily the source of low back pain, what is the cause of a person’s symptoms? Much of the time the pain is due to improper alignment and motion of the joints of the spine and pelvis. This causes irritation to the nerves of the spine which in turn produces pain and symptoms. To correct misalignment of joints of the spine and pelvis, chiropractic adjustments should be performed.
These adjustments are gentle movements performed by the chiropractor to the patient’s spine which improve misalignment and abnormal movement of spinal joints and remove irritation from the nerves. Even in the event of an abnormal disc, whether it be bulging, herniated, protruded, or degenerated, chiropractic adjustments can be very effective.
For instance, one study of 59 people diagnosed with herniated discs were treated with chiropractic adjustments. Ninety percent showed improvement. Importantly, none were worsened! In the event of a lower back spinal disc herniation, bulge, or protrusion, it is advisable to first seek conservative chiropractic care as an alternative to invasive back surgery. The facts speak for themselves.