Disc Go Here, Disc Go There…

Disc problems are a common concern for many people, but they don’t have to be. Most of the time, the real problem isn’t even the discs themselves. They get blamed for pain and dysfunction, when the real cause is often somewhere else. If we know what our spinal discs are and what they do for us, we can also get a better understanding of problems related to them and put the blame in the right place.

Intervertebral discs are basically the shock absorbing cushions between your vertebrae, which are your spinal bones. They are made up of cartilage and can’t move, much less slip, so there is no such thing as a “slipped disc.” The connections to the bones they separate are actually stronger than the bones themselves! However, they’re function and shape is completely dependent on the demands and alignment of our spine. When the spine misaligns, it forces these passive structures to be pulled in the direction of least resistance. They change shape and wedge to compliment the angles formed by the spine as it moves. Where the spine goes, the discs go. This is normal as long as they don’t have to hold an unusual position too long. What isn’t normal are the long term positions these discs are forced into while adapting to misalignments of the vertebrae they are dependent on for proper function.

When people get back pain that doesn’t go away with conservative treatment, they often have an MRI to take a closer look. When damage is observed to any of the spinal discs in the area of pain, it is wrongly assumed that they are the cause of the problem itself. And when therapy moves to invasive treatments like surgery to cut these discs, it can only hope to treat the effects of the real problem. This is why so many people have so many failed back surgeries by so many well-intentioned surgeons, who aren’t trained to find the real cause of the damage to your discs.

Regardless of whatever you try to do to feel better, you have to also make sure to be better. Have you ever looked at a whip that has been used for a while? On which end do you see the fraying? Your spine acts much like a whip and gets damaged like one too. Now where do you think the energy came from to cause that frayed end of the whip?  You’re right: The other end of the whip! Much of the time the damage seen in the spine, along with the frayed discs, is caused by another area of the spine and often from the opposite end of the spine. Remember, the handle end of a whip is where all the energy comes from to fray every single thread on the other end of it.

Most of your spine is controlled by the upper end of your neck, which acts like the handle of a whip. When spinal discs have problems further down your spine, they are usually just reacting to abnormal function from above. Since most disc changes begin way sooner than we can be aware of them, it’s important to get your spines checked by a chiropractor whether we feel anything now or not. And if you are concerned about having anything done to a painful area of your spine, the good news is that the main problem is usually in a different area anyway. So, it’s time to get your spine whipped back into shape so you can hit the disco without having to say, “There goes my disc again!”