Low back pain is experienced by 60-80% of the American population according to the Cleveland Clinic. Of those that suffer from it, a great majority of low back pain comes from intervertebral disc herniations.
The intervertebral discs are positioned in between each of the 24 vertebra in the human spine and separate each vertebra from the one above and below it.
People who suffer from disc herniations usually experience low back pain that radiates into their butt, hips, legs or feet. Sciatica is present as well numbness or tingling in the lower leg.
There Are 2 Causes for Disc Herniations:
1. A large amount of force compresses the spine usually through a trauma. (such as a large object falling on the top of your head) Pain is felt immediately.
2.The discs shift, herniate and rupture when the alignment of a vertebra shifts through repetitive micro-traumas. (sitting at a computer desk for long hours). A vertebra bone shifts out of place, putting unequal pressure on one side of the disc causing it to degenerate.(similar effect of a automobile’s faulty alignment wearing down different areas of the tires.) This process usually takes years to produce pain as the spine degenerates. The further the degeneration, the further the amount pressure on the surrounding nerve.
There are 2 Types of Treatments for Disc Herniations:
Medications such as injections and muscle relaxants decrease the inflammation. Low back disc surgery is performed by removing part of or all of the disc. This is great for immediate pain relief, but does not correct the underlying alignment that is almost sure to resurface.
Chiropractic care re-aligns the vertebrae in order to correct the root cause of the disc herniation. While this is not always as fast as medications for pain relief, the long term effects provide stability within the discs and prevent further degeneration.
The most important test that a chiropractor can use to determine how much help they can provide a patient is by examining the spine through an x-ray. An x-ray will show the amount of degenerative changes present and how that is affecting the discs. The x-ray also shows the outcome that can be expected through chiropractic care. Check out the video below to see a time lapse of a spine degenerating from the alignment. In the beginning of the video, the alignment is perfect and the square shaped vertebrae have a thick disc in between them. Towards the end of the video, following years of a misalignment, the discs are thin and almost touching.