By Zosia Roberts, Chiropractic Intern
Decompress your spine with gentle traction to improve symptoms of neck pain, low back pain, disc herniation and radiculopathy. According to data from a 2010 study, about 80% of people will experience low back pain (LBP) sometime throughout their lifetime. What’s worse? Unresolved low back pain is the 3rd most common cause for surgical procedures. This study also reported that more than 60% of LBP is discogenic in nature, meaning, there is a problem with the shock absorbers of your spine.
Not so fast. . . First, we need a brief anatomy lesson to understand what exactly discogenic LBP means, and what is a disc anyways?
Your spine is made up of 33 vertebrae. That’s what we call your back bones. They vary in shape and size from region to region in your spine to accommodate different biomechanical needs and other physiological processes. Starting at the base of your skull your neck has 7 cervical vertebrae ending at the top of your shoulders, then your upper and mid back is made of 12 thoracic vertebrae, and lastly your low back is made of 5 lumbar vertebrae which connect to your tailbone or your sacrum.
Phew! That’s a lot to remember. Don’t worry, your chiropractor studied the spine and the human body for 4+ year!
But wait. There’s more!
There is an intervertebral disc in between every bone in your spine (there are a few exceptions, you can give your doc a pop quiz next time you’re on the table)! These discs are made mostly of water (that’s why hydration is essential to spinal health) and they act as shock absorbers for your body. Discogenic means there is a problem with the disc. Imagine the disc (or the shock absorber) is a jelly doughnut. There is an outer part and an inner part to your disc. With a disc herniation the “jelly” escapes from the inner layer and protrudes through the outer layer. The now structurally compromised disc can irritate spinal nerves, causing pain and other neurological symptoms such and numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. Generally, this pain is referred in a specific pattern like down the arm or the leg depending on where the disc defect has occurred.
So the big question is, how do we get the jelly back in the doughnut and relieve the nerve pressure that’s causing your symptoms?
As a chiropractor, we utilize conservative treatment and non-invasive therapies such as chiropractic adjustments, spinal decompression, flexion and distraction or even Mackenzie exercises to promote healing. Will some discogenic pack pain require surgery? Yes. However, there is substantial research which shows the benefits of spinal decompression in the reduction of pain and neurological symptoms related to discogenic pain. Our Wash Park Chiros are highly qualified to individualize this treatment to your specific needs and condition.
How long should you expect treatment to take?
Research suggests approximately 6 weeks or 22 sessions of spinal decompression is necessary to experience a therapeutic affect (ie. when you’ll start to feel better). But this can vary depending on the severity of your injury and presentation.
At Washington Park Chiropractic we aim to get you back to doing the things you love with as little risk and as much ease as possible. We have the most reliable and effective technology, equipment, and personnel to help you do just that.
Zosia Roberts is a chiropractic student from Palmer College in Port Orange, Florida, completing her internship at Washington Park Chiropractic. She is passionate about women’s health, pediatrics and perinatal care. She enjoys educating patients on the power of chiropractic and helping others achieve their health and fitness goals.
Apfel, C.C., Cakmakkaya, O.S., Martin, W. et al. Restoration of disk height through non-surgical spinal decompression is associated with decreased discogenic low back pain: a retrospective cohort study. BMC Musculoskelet Disord 11, 155 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-11-155