This morning, by 1:30pm I had already treated three patients with disc problems in their lower back. Each patient came in with slightly different symptoms ranging from leg/buttock pain to sharp, stabbing lower back pain to pins and needles. The cause was the same – a bulging of the disc in their lower back. Commonly these symptoms are known as Sciatica, i.e. low back pain with referral down the legs.
I use the term ‘bulging’ disc, because contrary to what a lot of people think, discs cannot slip. The discs in the spine act as cushions to protect against compression within the spine and on the nerves. Similar to the shock absorbers of your car.
They are made of cartilage with a jelly-like substance in the middle.
Much like a cushion, the discs can protrude and become misshaped, forming a bulge, which can put pressure on the spinal nerves.
Chiropractic care can help with bulging discs, with the aim to remove the pressure on the spinal nerves and allow the disc to return to its normal shape and function.
However, leaving a bulged disc can lead to a tear – allowing the jelly-like substance to squeeze out. Depending on the severity of this, Chiropractic can still help in these situations. The aim is the same to remove the pressure on the nerve. Additionally, improving the movement of the spine at the level of the disc injury can allow the disc to heal in the correct position.
A tear of the disc can take 12-18 months to heal. So as always, early intervention is best to prevent a bulged disc from tearing.