The disc is a small cartilage pad that is situated between two vertebras in your spine. The soft jelly-like center (called the nucleus pulposus), is surrounded by layers of fibrous tissues. Each disc acts as a shock absorber for the spine and provides space between adjacent vertebrae. When healthy, discs allow for normal turning and bending.
Since intervertebral discs have a very poor blood supply, they depend on normal joint motion and the circulation of their surrounding joint fluids to bring in nutrients and remove waste. If a spinal joint loses its normal motion and this pumping action is compromised, the health of the disc deteriorates. Like a wet sponge, a healthy disc is flexible. A dry disc is like a sponge that is hard, stiff, and can crack easily. This is how many disc problems begin.
Because of the way each disc is attached to the vertebra above and below it, a disc cannot “slip” as is commonly thought. However, trauma or injury to the spine can cause discs to bulge, herniated, or completely rupture. This can be very painful, putting pressure on the spinal cord and surrounding nerves, interfering with their function.
The chiropractic approach to disc problems is to restore better motion and position to the spinal joint. Besides reducing disc bulging, better spinal function helps reduce inflammation and begin the slow process of healing the soft tissues near the area of injury. Many patients have avoided needless surgery or a dependency on pain pills by choosing conservative care.