Written by Dr. Matthew Alvord DC, DPhCS
Did you know that you are sitting on jelly sandwiches? We all have them. They are stacked up in our spine, so the lower down the spine the bigger the sandwich. Our jelly sandwiches are made up of bone bread and disc jelly and are perfectly normal and needed for us to function properly.
The jelly between our backbones allows us to absorb shock and move in many directions. They are designed to take a lot of stress, but when the pressure is too great for too long, the jelly starts to come out of your sandwich and can ooze all over your nerves! They call this oozing jelly a disc herniation and although it can result in pain over time, most people have the oozing long before they ever know there is something wrong with the sandwich.
That’s why when people do an activity that shouldn’t normally cause enough stress to force the jelly out of the sandwich, they might think that the oozing started with the pain. But in order to understand better what exactly is going on, we have to take a look at the conditions that set us up for a messy spine.
So what makes the jelly leave the bread in the first place? The jelly inside your sandwiches works perfectly as long as the pressure from gravity and activity is spread out evenly along the bread. Most oozing doesn’t happen from a single stressful event, it happens gradually over time and you have no idea it is going on until it is too late.
When the spine twists for long periods of time, it puts more pressure on one side of the sandwich and the jelly is forced to leave the bread. It doesn’t have a choice. The same forces that hold the jelly in place will force the jelly to move out of sandwich if the spine twists out of shape because the jelly can’t move itself. It has to go wherever the forces in the spine go.
When there is nerve interference (subluxation) in one place in your spine, usually in your upper neck, it forces the rest of the spine to compensate by twisting around the subluxation. Imagine grabbing a snake by the neck; what happens to the rest of the snake? You’re right; it coils around your arm! Your spine does the same thing. So what do you think happens with all those jelly sandwiches in a twisted spine? Right again! You end up with a messy spine, sometimes with many places where jelly has oozed out of place.
The most common places for oozing jelly are in the lower neck and the lower back. When they see this on an MRI, they might want to blame the jelly and try to treat it with drugs or surgery to numb it up, or cut it out, but this does nothing to fix the sandwich itself or prevent the jelly from coming out of the sandwiches around it.
The good news is that most jelly problems don’t require any of these extreme treatments. If we look at the real cause of the problem, we can take the pressure off the sandwiches and allow the jelly to ooze back into place again. Your Chiropractor is specifically trained to find the interference in your spine, remove it, and allow your spine to untwist again, letting the jelly move back between the bread again and off your nerves.
Even better news, is that the interference is usually not where the oozing is so the spinal adjustments usually don’t have to be done where the pain is. Many people are surprised where their interference actually is because they became convinced that their problem must be where their pain is, when in fact the pain is usually just where the effects are, not the true cause of their problem. With time and repetition, not only does the pain usually go away, the underlying disc issue resolves as well.
The best news of all is that none of us has to wait until we feel pain related to oozing jelly or the illusions that come over the years of thinking we don’t have a problem until we have pain. We can all get checked for nerve interference today to reverse the effects of a twisted spine and the oozing jelly that leads to worse problems tomorrow.