Disc herniation/prolapse/slipped disc

What is a disc herniation? A disc prolapse? OR a slipped disc?

Disc herniation, disc prolapse and slipped discs are all the same things just different names. A vertebral disc is made from 2 main parts: the nucleus pulposus (the liquid in the centre of the disc) and the outer annulus fibres. A disc herniation is when the nucleus pulposus leaks out of the weak disc and compresses on the nerves. As a result, back pain, extremity numbness, tingling and even weakness in severe cases.

What attributes to a disc herniation/prolapse?

Disc herniations can occur in both the neck and the low back. Usually disc herniation in the neck occurs due to repetitive stress that leads to degeneration. While lumbar disc herniation is usually caused by incorrect lifting technique i.e twisting your back while lifting something off the floor.

Why does structural chiropractic work so well for disc herniations?

Structural chiropractic helps with disc herniations as looks at stabilizing the spine. This is especially effective for disc herniations as herniations are often caused by spinal instability. By creating proper motion in the spine, the surrounding muscles around the spine strengthen. This results in the spine being properly stabilized thus allowing healing to happen as much as possible rather than being repetitively stress.

So how does this all happen?

When your joints (any joint) are misaligned, they cannot move correctly. When a joint does not move correctly, the stabilising muscles that support that joint become lazy and weak and the nerve connection to those muscles diminish as it’s not getting used much.

It’s use it or lose it for the body, brain and nerve connections and Just like having a cast on your arm or leg, without moving the joints for just 1-2 months you will see a huge reduction of muscle tone and strength and nerve connectivity.

More specific to the spine, without proper movement of the joints and strength of the muscles and ligaments of the spine, the spinal curves lose their most functional shape and instead of acting like springs to distribute everyday forces, all the forces go onto the bones and discs of the spine and cause degeneration, damage/injury and other dysfunctions to occur. 

The deep stabilising muscles and their strength and activity are important as when they are not supporting a joint properly a whole host of problems can arise. 

These muscles keep the joints in their proper position… so when they are weak:

  1. The joint is not getting any support.
  2. It’s not in it’s optimal position.
  3. Keeps locking up and lacks proper movement.
  4. The muscles keep getting weaker.
  5. The cycle keeps getting worse over time.
  6. Creates damage inside the bones, joints, discs and nerves.

This weakness and instability within the deep stabilising muscles also creates tightness and stiffness in and around the bigger muscles around the body such as the neck (causing tension headaches), chest, shoulders, lower back, buttock and even arms and legs, creating a whole chain of improper movement and stress through the body.