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Identifying the Source of Your Back Pain

By Debra Rodzinak

When medical professionals can’t agree on the cause of pain related to the spine, patients understandably have a hard time realizing the true source of their back pain.  With so many different terms used to describe pain related to the discs of the spine, patients also become confused and frustrated.  What is the difference between a degenerated, slipped, herniated, or bulging disc and how do these terms relate to your back pain?

Spinal Discs

Round on the edges and flat on the top and bottom, spinal discs are attached to the bony vertebrae of the spine.  They serve as shock absorbers for the spine and are flexible.  These discs are prone to injury due to changes from aging, abuse, or other changes.  These changes can cause pain in the lower back, legs, or other areas of the body.  Numbness and weakness are also common symptoms with spinal disc problems.

Degenerative Disc Disease

When the pliable disc is the source of pain, the causes can be a drying out of the disc which leads to cracking, loss of shock absorption, and loss of flexibility.  Tiny cracks can develop in the disc which can also cause pain.  When pain is directly related to the discs of the spine, the term used to describe this pain is called degenerative disc disease.

Herniated Disc

When a disc causes pain to other parts of the body, such as the root nerves of the spine, then the pain is described as a herniated disc.  This includes problems that occur when the inner material of the disc leaks out and touches the nerve root.  Since the fluid inside the disc is highly inflammatory, it only takes a small amount of this fluid to cause pain to the nerves of the spine.

A spinal disc doesn’t have to be injured, but it is often the cause of pain due to affecting other parts of the spine.  When a disc is bulging, has slipped out of place, or leaks fluid, these all fall under the heading of herniated disc problems.  When the nerve roots are inflamed or pinched, pain will not be directly at the spine, but often occurs in the extremities of the body like the legs, feet, arms, or shoulder. 

Treatment Options

Whenever there are issues with the spine, a trip to your physician is recommended.  After you have been identified as having a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease, come by The Joint for a gentle spinal adjustment.  When the spine is compressed, an expert chiropractor, like the ones at The Joint, can realign the joints of the spine which often relieves the pain associated with disc problems.  Drop by The Joint today to find relief for your degenerated or herniated discs.


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