Learning how a disc gets damaged is the first step towards the recovery of neck pain and back pain. Those with damaged spinal discs can relate to the agony it can cause. For most, even simple chores are aggravating factors. If you have a damaged spinal disc and frequently suffer flare-ups of pain, you need to take action. Targeted comprehensive therapy programs to reestablish disc hydration and repair can prevent years of suffering. In this article, we provide you an overview of how a disc gets damaged and what you can do to stop the degenerative process.
What Is The Function Of The Spinal Disc?
Spinal discs are circular or oval-shaped rubbery cushions situated between the bones of your spine. Their primary function is weight-bearing, cushioning, and a pivotal point that allows motion and mobility. In total, there are 24 spinal discs. Your spine has five distinct regions:
- Cervical spine or the neck
- Thoracic Spine (upper and mid-back)
- Lumbar spine or the lower back
- The Sacrum Coccyx
The cervical spine has seven bones and six spinal discs. The only segment not separated by a spinal disc is the C1-C2 (first and second spinal disc interspace. The thoracic spine has 12 bones (vertebrae), interconnected by 12 spinal discs, while the lumbar having five vertebrae and five spinal discs. The sacrum and coccyx (collectively called the tailbone) do not have spinal discs. Each disc is classified based on their connections to the vertebrae above and below. For example, the L4-L5 disc is a reference to the spinal disc positioned between the 4th and 5th lumbar segments.
Spinal discs attach via the endplate to the vertebrae. Each vertebra has two end-plates, one on top and another at the bottom. Endplates are about 1mm thick and provide the disc vertebrae attachment point as well as the nutritional needs of the disc. Events that lead to decreased nutrient flow are dominant steps in how a disc gets damaged.
What Are The Primary Structures Of A Spinal Disc?
Your spinal disc has two parts, the nucleus pulposus and the annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus is the softer inner part, while the annulus fibrosus ae the firmer outer fibers. The annulus fibrosis or the annular ligament functions as a ligament forming the disc-vertebrae connection and vertebra-to-vertebra attachment. The nucleus pulposus is the functional component that allows motion and shock absorbance. The nucleus also manufactures the ground substances or nutrients that it and the annulus need. A healthy spinal disc is strong enough to withstand even the most strenuous activity. However, some instances lead to the demise and deterioration of both the nucleus and annulus structures of the disc. Wear and tear of the nucleus or annulus are the contributing factors to how a disc gets damaged.
Why Spinal Discs Degenerate?
Some degrees of degenerative changes are normal as we age. However, far too many get disc degeneration early in life. Early degenerative changes are the result of premature wears and tears. It can be a poor posture, improper lifting, and lack of sleep or even inherited or congenital issues. Regardless of the cause, degenerative changes within a disc are always due to a lack of nutrients. Unlike other ligaments, the spinal disc is avascular (has no direct blood supply). The daily nutritional needs are met through the diffusion of blood from the end-plate into the disc. When disrupted, degenerative changes initiate. Aside from lack of blood flow into a disc, disc pressure or intradiscal pressure is another factor of vital importance.
The average pressure within a healthy spinal disc should be about 70mmgh. Intradiscal pressure exceeding 90mmgh is a precursor to disc degeneration. Nutrients get expelled when the pressure rises inside your spinal disc. As if this alone was not bad enough, inward diffusion decreases or worse stops simultaneously. In the section below, we have provided a video that describes the details of how a disc gets damaged. Please make sure you watch this informative video.
What Is The Best Way Of Diagnosing Spinal DIsc Damage?
The diagnosis of spinal disc issues is best through physical examination. They may have you lift both legs and have you hold them up. Or, lift your leg to assess the possibility of disc damage. Clinicians will use a variety of assessments, testing for:
- Muscle weakness
- Nerve deficit (reflexes and neurological tests)
- Joint issues (orthopedic tests)
If your doctor suspects disc damage, he or she will refer you for diagnostic imaging:
- Spine X-rays
- CT Scan
- MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging
Plain spine X-rays were the first means of diagnosing spinal disc problems. Although still in use for spine issues, they are the least informative of spinal disc issues. Because the plain x-ray doesn’t visualize the disc. It merely reflects the space they occupy. X-rays are not the best tools to identify how a disc gets damaged or the degree of damage inflicted on a spinal disc. A downfall of x-rays is the diagnostic limitations and radiation exposure. CT scans or Computerized Tomography is better than the plain spine x-rays. However, they expose you to higher levels of radiation than do x-rays.
CT scans are, in essence, a series of high-intensity x-rays from multiple angles combined to provide a three-dimensional overview of the spine. Although better than the plain x-ray, they are still limited in scope. The limitation of CT scan for spine issues is due to the limitations of visualizing spinal discs components. MRI or Magnetic Resonance Imaging is the best diagnostic test for the spine; spinal discs damage including bulging discs, herniated discs, protruded discs, prolapsed and extruded or fragmented discs. It uses a strong magnetic field instead of the ionizing radiation used in CT scans or plain x-rays. In short, the MRI is the gold standard for diagnosing spine-related issues.
How A Disc Gets Damaged & What Are The Contributes To Degenerative Disc Disease?
Degenerative Disc Disease or DDD is fast becoming the number one spine issue. Our modern lifestyle is the primary reason for degenerative changes in the spine. Sitting is perhaps the main culprit is a damaged spinal disc. Prolonged sitting or lying in poor posture are now proven reasons for how a disc gets damaged. Weakness in muscles and ligaments predisposes the spinal joint and spinal discs to higher levels of stress, causing them to wear out prematurely.
Poor posture and prolonged sitting can impact anyone at any time. Medical research has established the fact that 20% of kids between 9-11 years of age have signs of disc damage. Repetitive movements, improper lifting, injuries, and advancing of one’s age are also factors in the development of spinal disc damage. Aside from poor posture, prolonged sitting, injuries, or the advancing of age, several factors predispose one to a damaged spinal disc. In short, some of us are more prone to developing spinal disc disorder because of:
- Familial history of a musculoskeletal disorder
- Congenital or malformations of spinal bones and joints
- A scoliotic spine (scoliosis is an unnatural twisting and turning o the spine)
- Obesity Lack of physical exercise Shortened hamstrings or quadriceps
- Pelvic unleveling (having a shorter leg on one side)
- Disorders of the weight-bearing joints (feet, ankles, knees, and hips) Poor core muscles tone or strength
What Are The Symptoms Of Spinal Disc Damage (Degenerative Disc Disease)?
The initial stages of spinal disc damage may be asymptomatic. However, as it progress, signs and symptoms may be noticed. Those who seek attention to remedy the cause will have better chances of recovery. But for those who choose to ignore or dismiss mild signs or symptoms, it can progress and even become disabling. Spinal disc damage, such as a herniated or bulging disc, is the leading cause of disability in persons under the age of 45. We have provided some of the most common signs, and symptoms of disc damage are listed below to help you understand how a disc gets damaged:
- Pain or stiffness in the neck, upper back, mid-back, low back or the pelvis
- Pain that increases when coughing or sneezing
- Worsening of pain with standing or sitting Increase in pain when walking or during activity
- Numbness or tingling sensations in the spine arms, hands, legs or feet Weakness in shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, legs, ankles or feet
- Pain that worsens during sleep
- Difficulty standing upright following sitting
What Are The Different Types Of Spinal Disc Damage Or Problems?
Degenerative Disc Disease or DDD is the most common spinal disc issue. DDD results from increased stress, leading to disc dehydration or degenerations. These degenerative changes within a disc are the primary reason for how a disc gets damaged. Spinal disc issues fall into two categories:
- Mechanical Types: Bulging Disc, Protruded discs, prolapsed discs, herniated disc, ruptured disc, extruded disc or fragmented disc
- Non-Mechanical Type: Rudimentary disc (congenital) and Discitis (an infectious process)
Bulging Disc: The First Progressive Stage Of A Mechanical Disc Following Degenerative Disc Disease
Bulging disc is a term that has been sued to mean several spine issues, including herniation, protrusions, ruptures, extrusion, and even fragmentation. However, the actual meaning of the word bulging disc is one where the disc fibers have swollen more than usual. In reality, a bulging disc will not compress the spinal cord or spinal nerves. They are relatively common findings in persons with DDD.
Protruded Disc: This Mechanical DIsc Damage Occurs When A Bulging DIsc WOrsens Or Progresses
In a protruded disc, the center of the disc (nucleus pulposus) migrates outwards towards the spinal canal for foramina but does not break through the outer fibers of the spinal disc (annulus fibrosus) Prolapsed Disc: A disc prolapse is the progression of a protruded disc. In a prolapse, the center of the disc is kept in place by the last remaining fibers of the outer disc structures called the annular fibers of annulus fibrosus.
Herniated Disc or Ruptured Disc: Is A Mechanical DIsc Damage That Occurs With Progression Of A Bulging Or Protruded Disc
Herniated disc and ruptured disc are interchangeable terms used to describe a scenario where the nucleus pulposus is herniated or ruptured through the protective outer barriers called the annulus fibrosus. In essence, it is the progression of a prolapsed disc, where the last remaining intact fibers tear, and the center of the disc (nucleus pulposus) comes in contact with the contents of the spinal canal or spinal foraminae.
Extruded Disc: Mechanical Disc Damage That Occurs With The Progression Of A Herniated Or A Ruptured Disc
An extruded disc is the progression of a ruptured or herniated disc, where the nucleus pulposus pushes away from the center to the periphery of the spinal disc. These are large disc herniations or disc ruptures in need of immediate attention.
Fragmented Disc: Mechanical Disc Damage Resulting From An Extruded Disc
The fragmented disc is the last and most dangerous stage where the nucleus pulposus breaks off and becomes a free-floating entity in the spinal canal. Discitis: Unlike the disc mentioned above issues, discitis is not a mechanical disorder of the spinal disc. They are the results of an infectious process or an autoimmune disease leading the severe and even life-threatening health issues.
Discitis: A Non-Mechanical form of Disc Damage Due To An Infection
Unlike the disc mentioned above issues, discitis is not a mechanical disorder of the spinal disc. They are the results of an infectious process or an autoimmune disease leading the severe and even life-threatening health issues.
Rudimentary Disc: A Non-Mechanical form of Disc Damage
These are discs that failed to develop fully. Often found in transitional segments. Transitional segments are new spinal bones formed due to inherent variations. They can become health issues, as they will impact the other parts of the spine.
What are the best home care therapies for spinal disc problems?
A damaged disc produces symptoms when it bulges, herniated, prophases extrude, or if it fragments. Up to this stage, we provided information on how a disc gets damaged. In this section, we will cover issues that include information on what you can do at home to alleviate the symptoms of a damaged spinal disc. The little things you do at home or on your own, can prevent the spinal disc from further damage as well as provide some relief of pain. We have provided a few self-help tips and actions below:
- Avoid prolonged sitting or standing
- Avoid postures that put your spine in a flexed or bent position
- Try not to carry heavy items
- Refrain from bending or twisting at the waist
- Remember that movements such as bending and twisting (especially at the same time) can increase pressure on your damaged disc
- Ice the affected area for 10-15 minutes every two to three hours
- Stretch your hamstrings if the disc problem is in your lower back
- Stretch your chest and pectoral muscles if you have neck issues
- Perform mild core exercises that don’t include bending or twisting
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach and try to sleep on your back or your side (90-degrees), with a pillow between the knees
- Take repeated breaks at work Avoid driving distances of 30-minutes or longer
All You Need To Know About A Spinal Disc & How A Disc Gets Damaged
How a disc gets damaged is an in-depth topic. You may have to watch the video above a couple of times to fully grasp the complexities of how a disc gets damaged. We spent lots of time researching this topic. We then developed a particular treatment program that countered the effects leading to a slipped disc. Our slipped disc treatments program can reverse your slipped disc. How it does it is through the processes of induced diffusion. In other words, it changes the sequence of events that lead to your spinal disc damaged.
Why is it important to know how a spinal disc gets damaged? Well, a disc will not slip (Bulge or Herniate) unless there is some damage. So, to fix a slipped disc, we need to know it got damaged in the first place. Knowing how you damage your spinal disc is critical in the avoidance of a similar issue later. In other words, once we fix your slipped disc, it shouldn’t return. The only we can help is to make you aware of how a disc gets damaged so you can prevent damage to the disc again!
Disc bulge, disc herniation, disc protrusion, disc extrusion, prolapsed disc, or more commonly known as slipped disc are the leading causes of neck and back pain.
The intervertebral disc is gel-like structures that connect the bones of the spine. There are two components in spinal disc:
- The Nucleus Pulposus
- Annular fibrosus
The nucleus pulposus in the center and surrounded by layers of tough annular fiber (Annular Fibrosus). The spinal disc sits in between two adjacent spinal vertebrae. Your spinal discs act as shock absorbers, and it helps to distribute the force when the spine is in a load-bearing position. However, prolonged axial compression (sitting for long periods) can damage the sensitive fibers of a disc: prematurely wearing and tearing the spinal discs. Spinal disc bulge, disc herniation, disc extrusion, disc protrusion, and disc fragmentation are serious spinal disc issues that need corrections.
Muscle weakness, ligamentous instabilities, fixated spinal joints (subluxations) are the culprits in a slipped disc. These conditions coupled with poor posture and prolonged sitting can lead to damage to your spinal discs. Spinal disc damage caused is always related to the disc’s nutrient levels. Spinal discs with adequate levels of incoming nutrients have better chances of withstanding the stress of daily living. When the nutrient levels decrease so does the spinal disc’s ability to fix or repair itself.
NSD Therapy® Can Reverse (Fix) A Slipped Disc: Even If Your Disc Is Damaged
Unlike other tissues in our body, a spinal disc does not have a direct blood supply. So, nutrients must be brought in through the process of imbibition. We need to put in the nutrients we need, and at the same time, we need to stop the outflow of nutrients. Or decrease activities, and avoid postures that lead to loss of nutrients.
However, load-bearing activities can expel the nutrients, leading to a nutrient deficiency within a disc. In other words, excessive loading or prolonged sitting can lead to spinal disc starvation and eventual disc damage. And, that is how a disc gets damaged. Once damaged, it can slip (herniate, protrude, prolapse or extrude) pushing and pinching on sensitive nerve fibers.
Each disc also contributes to the movement of the spinal column by allowing slight mobility at each spinal motion segment. With continued abnormal stress across the spinal disc, the nucleus pulposus can herniate, bulge or slip through the fissures in the weakened outer annular fiber. A herniated disc (slipped disc) leads to local neck or back pain with or without radicular symptoms. NSD Therapy® is a non-surgical, multi-modal approach for a slipped disc. NSD Therapy® is a combination of treatments which involves RxDecom®, clinical physiotherapy, neuromuscular rehabilitation, and chiropractic adjustment.
Can Spine Surgery Reverse A Slip-Disc Or Slipped Disc?
Spine surgery involves cutting of muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs. In short, it does not reverse a slip-disc but reduces some of the slipped portions of the disc. Spine surgeons address a slipped disc through laminectomy, foraminotomy, discectomy, nucleoplasm, or spine fusion. Regardless of the type or method used by your surgeon, spine surgery will not reverse spinal disc damage. In other words, the damage is still present. As such, the slipped disc may return. Therefore, it is recommended to exhaust all your non-surgical options before opting for an invasive procedure.
If you have a slipped disc (bulging or herniated disc), you must address the reasons why it bulged or herniated. Yes, surgery is an option; it offers a quick fix. But, the act of cutting tissues (muscles, ligaments, spinal discs, and spinal bones) will cause instability or weakness in your spine’s soft tissues. Weakened soft tissue puts undue stresses on the spinal joint and disc. These weaknesses are the primary reason for future pain and surgical interventions. So, those diagnosed with a slipped disc will do better with conservative treatments that address the cause. Fixing issues that lead to a slip-disc is better on both the short and long-term basis. NSD Therapy® as performed at our centers offer you the best chance of repairing your lipped disc without spine surgery.
According To Research, Conservative Management Of A Slipped Disc Through Multidiceilinary Approach Yields The Best Result
A damaged disc is the result of weaknesses or damage to muscles, ligaments, and spinal joints in proximity to the spinal disc. Therefore, if you or someone you know is having spinal disc damage or a slipped disc (slip-disc), they also have muscle, ligament, and spinal joint issues! Accurate diagnosis and focused treatments of all associated factors, issues, and structures (tissues) are critical to reversal and repair of disc damage and slip-disc. A multidisciplinary (interdisciplinary) method of treatment is essential to complete recovery. The best interdisciplinary (multidisciplinary) spine treatment is through the combination of physiotherapy with corrective chiropractic care.
Chiropractic Specialty Center® was the first center in Malaysia to offer a complete interdisciplinary method of slipped disc treatments through chiropractic combined with physiotherapy and breakthrough spine technology. Chiropractors and physiotherapists each have areas of expertise, specific skill sets, and knowledge. A chiropractor is an expert in spine care. The profession started over 130-years ago. No other profession had dedicated as many resources or time studying, researching, and developing innovative procedures for non-invasive spine care than the chiropractic profession. However, physiotherapists have proven their skills and abilities in fixing and repairing muscles, tendons, and ligament issues.
Therefore, combining chiropractic with physiotherapy is both evolutionary and revolutionary! By visiting our center, you get the best of both and much more! Our advanced methods and breakthrough spine technology combined with our interdisciplinary methods of spinal disc treatment are second to none. We provide the best neck pain and low back pain treatment in Malaysia. Get the best non-surgical spinal disc treatment toddy by contact our center now.
Why Should You Choose Us?
Choose us because we are better! Get treated by an interdisciplinary team that has a 95% track record of success in the treatment of complicated slip-disc conditions that includes severe bulges, herniations, extrusion, and even partial fragmentations! To summarize, our clinical research-based teams of chiropractors and physiotherapists provides the most comprehensive non-surgical spine care in Malaysia. For more information on how a disc gets damaged or the best treatment options for a damaged spinal disc, call our center at 03-2093 1000.