Chiropractic Care and Your Spinal Discs, Part 3


Hello from Dr. Dusty. Today, I’m going to explain what happens in many situations of low back pain. If you’ve ever had pain in this area or if you have suffered from sciatica, then it might interest you to know what is happening and especially, how it can be remedied.

You might already know that you have seven vertebrae in your neck, 12 in your mid-back and five in your lower back—the lumbar spine. Between each vertebra there’s a disc that acts as a ligament.

What do these discs do?

  • Hold the spine together. 
  • Bear the downward pressure and weight of the body.
  • Serve as a pivot point so the spine can twist and turn.

Obviously, these discs are critically important to your everyday function. 

The Construction of Each Disc

The outer rim of each disc is called the annulus fibrosus. Annulus means ring-shaped. Fibrosus refers to the presence of fibrous connective tissue surrounding the disc. There are many layers of this tough fibrous material surrounding the nucleus of the disc, slightly resembling the rings of a tree. 

The center of the disc, the nucleus, is filled with a watery, gelatin-like substance. There’s a certain amount of stable water pressure inside the nucleus. There are nerves on the outer surface of the disc and this water pressure inside the nucleus keeps them from growing into the disc—that would be painful. 

The Beginning of Degeneration

Because of age and injuries, this watery nucleus can begin to break up and migrate outwards. That water pressure inside the nucleus reduces which means that nerves start to grow inwards. The patient can begin to suffer from discogenic pain. This means that the pain comes directly from these disc nerves. 

You can also get pain from this watery substance coming in contact with the spinal nerve roots themselves as they exit the spinal column. The chemicals in the fluid of the nucleus can cause more pain when they touch these nerves. The more intact we can keep this nucleus, the better. 

Treating Disc Degeneration

Chiropractic adjustments are of great benefit when discs have begun to degenerate. Adjustments help restore the normal patterns of movement of the vertebrae. When these vertebrae move normally, fluids and nutrition are brought into the discs. The more hydrated the discs and the more nutrition they have, the more normal a person’s movement patterns will be. 

In my office, we have a special table that flexes a patient’s low back and then returns it to a neutral position, over and over. This gentle motion changes the water pressure in the nucleus of each disc in the low back which causes nutrition to flow into these discs. This is a very healing process. 

Consulting with You on Improving Your Disc Health

There are many things you can do outside of my office to restore your discs to better function: eating good-quality foods, losing weight and getting more exercise. I would be glad to help you plan out your own personal program to improve your disc health. I can do this in our office or on the phone with you. 

In the office, I can offer a Pressure Point Therapy treatment on your low back or your neck. There are also tests I can use to determine what your situation actually is and what treatment would improve your disc health. 

I invite you to call our office and talk to my staff or me about how we can help you improve your disc health and reduce any pain you might have in either the lower back or neck. You can call 314-635-1008 anytime to schedule an appointment. I hope to see you in my St. Louis office soon.

By Dustan Mattingly, February 23, 2021