What is a herniated disc?
Between two vertebrae is a disc of cartilage, which in Latin is called a discus. A disc acts as a shock absorber for the back. The outer two-thirds consists of hard and strong cartilage, and the inner one-third consists of a soft gel-like core. The cartilage is made up of many layers of connective tissue fibers, which are elastic.
When you are very young, the cartilage is quite elastic, but with age this elasticity will diminish in all of us - in the same way as an elastic that is allowed to lie on the windowsill. Small cracks can occur in the disc both under normal load and faulty load. It is not unusual for the inner soft core to be pushed out through such a crack. If the soft core is pushed completely out of the gap, it is called a herniated disc (a hernia). If it is only partially pressed into the fissure, a protrusion occurs - also called a raised disc.
Until a few years ago, it was thought that a disc herniation was always a dramatic condition. It can also be, but now we know that it is far from having to be the case. It turns out that half of the population over the age of 40 has a herniated disc in their back at any time. Whether you get symptoms or not depends on many different factors. In particular, the size of the holes from which the nerves exit through the spinal canal is important. If the holes are small, the nerve can get pinched more easily and cause symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling and buzzing down the buttocks, leg or foot. If the pressure on the nerve is great enough, it can affect the strength of the muscles or weaken the reflexes. Chiropractors have great experience in investigating this.
In rare cases, the pressure on one or more nerves can become so great that paralysis of muscles can occur, as well as difficulty urinating or defecating. In these cases, to avoid permanent damage, it will often be necessary to undergo surgery to remove the pressure on the nerve.
If you have a symptomatic herniated disc in your back, your chiropractor will inform and guide you on how to behave in order to recover as quickly as possible. The symptoms can often be longer in the case of a prolapsed disc, which is typically a long-lasting scar, as it is an inflammatory reaction from the body against the prolapse. A herniated disc in the acute phase can be compared to a ripe liquid-filled grape, which shrinks over time and turns into a small raisin. When the pressure on the nerve roots decreases, the pain disappears. In this phase, when the grape turns into a raisin, you can benefit greatly from chiropractic treatment, which aims to optimize movement in the back, while special exercises must be performed many times a day.