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Disc Herniation: what is it and what can I do?!

What are the discs in our spine and what do they do? 

Discs are a little like jam doughnuts that sit between each bony level of our vertebral column from our skull to our pelvis. Each disc is composed of a tough outer layer and a soft centre. Each disc acts as a spacer that allows a nerve to exit the spinal cord so messages can be sent to different parts of the body. Discs act as shock absorbers that can withstand 100lbs of load; this helps distribute our weight more evenly when we move.

How and why do discs herniate?

So, think back to a nice round juicy jam doughnut, imagine squeezing that doughnut; the shape would change. It wouldn’t be as round, it would be thinner and in some cases the jam could spill out; particularly if our joints are locked or our body is misaligned, and weight is distributed unevenly. 

What can we do if we have a herniated disc?

The good news is discs can heal, but we need to take good care of them. Think of the doughnut again, if we continue squeezing the doughnut it’s going to keep the disc squished and out of shape, which could cause you pain and discomfort. Firstly, we need to avoid the movement that is causing you pain, this is why maintaining good posture and movement patterns is important. One easy thing you can do is when you stand up, look at the ceiling just ahead of you and not at the floor! This helps to keep our spine nice and aligned!

When we have a disc herniation it is often accompanied by inflammation. Another simple thing you could try is using cold therapy intermittently throughout the day. This can help to cool the tissue surrounding the disc and give an anti-inflammatory effect. 

Whilst exercise may seem counterintuitive, moderate exercise such as short walks can provide pain relief, increase endorphins which boost our mood and reduce our pain perception. 

There are a wide range of treatment techniques that chiropractors can use to reduce disc pain and promote the body’s ability to heal the disc injury. We can use traction to help open up the gaps where your nerves come out and make sure the spine is moving correctly; this ensures pressure doesn’t focus around the injured disc. So, if you do feel you have disc related pain don’t delay seeing a chiropractor.

Any questions about discs? Get in touch at reception@backinshapechiropractic.co.uk, give us a call on 01264 300275.

Elizabeth Garvey
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