Treating The Intervertebral Disc For Back Pain Relief
Our patients often ask us, “What did I do to myself?”, or they may have conjured up an explanation for me as to why their back hurts. Most often, the pain is insidious in origin with no history of a trauma or injury. The fact of the matter is that any structure that has a supply of nerves can be a potential source of back pain. Proven sources of back pain are the intervertebral discs, the spinal joints and the sacroiliac joints. However, treating the intervertebral disc has been shown to be the most effective area for back pain relief in Springfield Missouri.
The anatomy of the intervertebral disc is very complex. Taken in cross section, the disc has numerous concentric layers of fibrotic tissue. The layers may remind one of the rings in a tree trunk or a cross section of an onion. These fibrous layers surround a unique tissue called the nucleus. The nucleus is jelly like but it is not compressible.
The purpose of the disc is to distribute pressure in and on the disc evenly. The disc works hydrostatically like a fluid in equilibrium under pressure. The outside layers of the disc have an abundance of sensory nerves. Once the disc begins to degenerate, the deeper layers of the disc fibers are more highly innervated.
The back and lateral part of the disc is the weakest and is not attached to the vertebra as firmly. Additionally, the back part of the disc is not supported by the strong ligaments that attach between the vertebra. Therefore, when the disc is maintained in a flexed position such as sitting or flexing at the waist it causes excess pressure toward the weakest part of the disc itself.
The pressure inside the disc increases by up to 80% in full flexion. Conversely, the pressure is reduced by 35% in extension. This helps to explain why the clear majority of disc failures occur posterior and laterally.
During the night when we are sleeping the disc absorbs water and during the day when we are in a weight bearing position the loading forces water out of the disc. Therefore, you may lose up to 10% of disc height during the day. Because of the increased mass of the disc in early morning the disc is 300% stiffer to flexion forces in early morning compared to later in the day. Many of us really begin to notice as we get older how our range of motion is limited especially in the mornings.
We can now understand how sustained loading over time becomes a significant factor in spinal pain. The insidious onset of back pain is far more common than trauma. Experimentally it has been shown that prolonged loading and accumulative stress can have pathological consequences. It is important clinically to understand fatigue failure and disc damage that occurs without a history of obvious trauma.
If you’d like our chiropractors to examine your intervertebral discs to see if chiropractic treatment could provide you with lower back pain relief, please contact us to schedule an appointment with our office.