Slipped Disc, Pinched Nerve, and Back Pain

Vertebrae are separated by inter-vertebral discs which act as small shock absorbers and facilitate movement of the spine. These discs consist of a very strong fibrous sac filled with an elastic jelly and very firmly welded to the vertebrae and cannot come loose. They can be compressed, twisted, rotated, bent and move obliquely, facilitating movement of the spine.

The vertebrae and discs alone are floppy. The spine’s movement is stabilized by facet joints between each of the vertebrae. Facet joints limit movement making it extremely difficult for the vertebrae to become displaced.

In the centre of each vertebra is a hole, these all line up to form the spinal canal, which creates a well protected path for the spinal cord. An arch below the facet joints forms openings between the vertebrae for the nerve root to pass through. From there the nerve branches out into the body.

Ligaments are made up of long bands of fibrous tissue and are extremely strong. These run up and down the spine and between the small joints, encapsulating the entire spine, holding it firmly together giving it strength and support.

When suddenly stressed as in an accident, sports injury or a fall, the discs get compressed and the facet joints – which take most of the impact – get aggravated causing inflammation.

Inflammation is one of the body’s emergency repair mechanisms, increasing blood flow to the area, bringing in extra nutrients and oxygen. When inflamed, the facet joint swells into the spinal cavity pushing the nerve root up against the vertebral body, pinching it to a greater or lesser degree. This is where the pain comes from and not from a ‘slipped disc’. As we can see from the way spine is supported, it is physically impossible for a disc to slip but the term is still used by many.

The above example is a case of the back being damaged. However – in the case of non-specific lower back pain, why is it that, although there is great value in treatment, one needs to keep returning for the same treatment? Why, for example, does the back keep ‘going out’?

Well… consider this. If you’re suffering from back ache, you don’t really think of it in terms of ‘the back’ as a whole, you narrow it down to something like; the spine is out, the discs ‘have slipped’, muscles have cramped, kidneys etc. So why stop there? If you keep narrowing it down you eventually arrive at cells, tissues and energy itself.

All of the body parts listed above are made up of cells and/or tissue and require energy to operate.

Energy can not flow fluidly over damaged or diseased cells and tissue and therefore the muscles, ligaments, discs, bones, organs, et al, can’t function efficiently. Cleaning up the cells and tissue allows the energy to flow fluidly so the muscles, bones, et al, can operate efficiently. With everything operating efficiently, the back can’t easily ‘go out’; the muscles can’t cramp, etc. so there is no back pain.