Chiropractic for Lumbar and Cervical Disc Problems

Can Chiropractic Help Back Disc problems?

image of xray showing metal plate placed in spinal fusion surgery.
This is a picture of a spinal fusion in the neck. Note the metal plate secured by two screws.

Most people have heard of someone they know having a  lumbar or cervical “disc problem” whether it is a lumbar disc problem, or low back disc or a cervical disc aka neck disc. Chiropractors have helped those with spinal disc problems for over a century. Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to deal with disc problems, up to a point. Here is a little background on back disc problems and chiropractic.

A spinal disc is found in between almost every vertebrae or individual bone of the back or spine. The discs, along with the spinal joints give us the movement of the spine. They allow us to bend and twist, to lean forward and backwards or to turn our head to see who is coming. They are very important. They also allow for cushioning or shock absorption guarding the spinal joints, nerves and spinal cord from injury. If the joint and vertebrae are  not aligned or moving properly, back, neck or lumbar disc problems may occur.

One way to describe the back disc is to compare it to a jelly doughnut. They are hard or firm on the outside and have a jelly-like center. This jelly center is what moves within the disc to give it motion. When the vertebrae of the spine are poorly aligned or “fixated” out of position, it creates abnormal movement around the disc which can cause wear and tear on the disc itself. Think of the front end of the family car. If the front end is out of alignment, the tread will wear out, sometimes without warning. Discs get and restore their fluid by a pumping action created by a natural and healthy movement of the spine. If the spine is not moving properly, the bones are locked together or misaligned, this can cause the  disc to dry out. This is called “desiccation. Desiccation of lumbar discs and cervical or “neck” discs is a real problem and can lead to severe arthritis.

When a disc dries out, it becomes susceptible to injury. Sometimes after years of wear and tear combined with desiccation (drying) the disc’s outer rings, called the “annulus fibrosis” can tear. This tear of the wall of the disc, weakens the housing around the jelly center sometimes allowing the disc jelly to “bulge.” This bulging may allow the jelly center to bulge against a nerve or even the spinal cord itself. You have probably heard of a “slipped disc.” There is no such thing as a disc that has “slipped.” This is just the old timers way of saying the disc has bulged. This bulging can cause great pain, numbness, radiating pain, muscle weakness or other severe symptoms. Sometimes these symptoms can seem quite frightening. When the disc cannot protect the nervous system and the spinal joints, the joints of the spine may become arthritic causing “osteoarthritis. ” The degeneration of the disc is called “degenerative disc disease” by the medical profession.

How can a Chiropractor can help Lumbar and Cervical Disc Problems?

How can chiropractors help a disc problem? The answer is pretty simple. By restoring normal function to the spine and spinal joints, by removing pressure on the nerves and releasing pressure on the disc, healing can occur. When the area can move properly again, the disc can once again re-hydrate and become healthier. Note, this takes time and not all discs can be completely healed in this manner.

Spinal surgery is often recommended for this problem of disc health. It should be considered carefully only as a last resort. I do not understand why some people will have serious surgery without a thought, but will not even try chiropractic. It makes no sense to me at all. Having disc surgery is like putting new tires on a car without doing a front end alignment.  THE PROBLEM THAT CAUSED THE WEAR AND TEAR IS NOT ADDRESSED!  What this sometimes means is that although some relief may be achieved through the surgery, the problem often returns in a few years.  In addition, spinal surgery costs tens of thousands of dollars and even though people think it is ok because their insurance pays for it. Ask yourself, do your insurance premiums keep going up? Is your insurance paying for it or just letting you make payments over time?

Treating disc problems requires expertise that is uncommon to find. Dr. Whittington has studied with Dr. John Bandy, an internationally renowned chiropractor who developed the official Lumbar and Cervical Disc treatment techniques for The International College of Applied Kinesiology.  This approach is painless, helps move the disc bulge back into place and restores alignment and movement with correct spinal adjustments. Dr. Whittington has worked with hundreds of low back and neck disc cases.

Sometimes due to the degree of herniation or bulge, surgery may seem like the only option for relief. A severe disc bulge or a “herniation” where the jelly-like center has squirted out into the spinal canal or onto spinal nerves is one of the most painful things imaginable. There are some studies that have shown over time, the nucleus spill can be reabsorbed by the body. However, in our experience we find that the patient is in so much pain at that point they will literally do anything to get out of pain. Including surgery.

If you feel you may have a disc problem, feel free to contact our office for more information or schedule a time to come in and discuss your problem and concerns with

Dr. Whittington

In a future article we will discuss more detail about spinal disc problems, how to prevent them and  how to live a long healthy life with an active spine and healthy nervous system.

Call our office for a consultation today: 828-298-0011

Or click here to make an appointment online

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