Most of us at some stage have heard the term slipped disc. But what is a slipped disc? Come to think of it what is a disc?
Each vertebra in the spine is separated from the next one by a cleverly designed little cushion of elestic tissue. These are known as the inter-vertebral discs. They consist of a softly squashed centre called the nucleus, contained by a tough rim of concentric rings of fibrous tissue called the annulus.
Their role is 2 fold: to act as a shock absorber for the spine, distributing the forces acting on our bodies; and secondly to allow the spine to move through its full range of motion.
As we reach our 20’s,, the blood supply to the disc tends to decrease, which means that it must get its nutrition from the fluid in surrounding tissues. It does this by sucking in moisture, much like a sponge.
Most of the rejuvenation of the disc occurs at night, which means we gain a small amount of height by the morning! If our spines are not in good working order, the discs can dry up, loose some of their height and loose their ability to do their job. This makes them more susceptible to general injury.
Fortunately these discs don’t slip. However they do bulge, tear and protrude!
Unfortunately this is only part of the total problem. A recent conference on spinal pain was told that no less than five percent of spinal pain could be attributed to this cause. Even when a disc is protruded and degenerative changes have occured, there may be no pain!!
40% of people over 40 years of age and 80% of people 75 years and older have a non symptomatic disc protrusion. The effect on health may be slow and not noticed.
Dr Kirkaldy Willis, a world renowned spinal researcher suggests that the best way to care for a disc protrusion is to try conservative management techniques and prevention.
He recommends chiropractic care, exercise and education.