Spinal disc herniation – “Slipped disc”

A spinal disc herniation is commonly referred to as a “slipped disc”. This description is quite misleading though as the disc cannot actually slip out of place! The disc is actually fused together with the vertebrae on either side. A spinal disc can be squeezed, stretched and twisted in small degrees. It can also be torn, ripped, herniated, and degenerated, but it cannot “slip”.

Some other terms commonly used to describe the condition include a prolapsed and ruptured disc. Other injuries that are closely related include disc protrusion, pinched nerves, sciatica, disc disease, disc degeneration and degenerative disc disease

The spinal discs have outer fibrous layers (annulus fibrosis) and a softer central portion (annulus pulposus). The central area is softer due to its higher water content. When a disc herniates the outer fibres are torn allowing the centre of the disc to bulge out. It is these bulges that can then go on to compress the spinal cord and nerve roots. Interestingly, even without nerve compression the inflammation associated with a spinal disc herniation of itself cause severe pain.

Despite the fact that most people feel they herniated a disc due to a one off injury, this is would be the exception rather than the rule. In most cases there is gradual degenerative change over time with a final blow that takes the injury that very last step.

Chiropractic is an effective form of treatment for spinal disc herniation. The use of specific chiropractic adjustments to re-align the spine and improve posture in conjunction with exercises to improve muscle strength and control forms the basis of our approach to spinal disc injuries at Better Health.