Disc injuries relate to the intervertebral disc between the vertebrae in the spine. There are a total of 24 vertebrae in a normal human spine. The most common areas for disc injuries to occur are in the lumbar spine, although it is possible for them to occur in cervical and thoracic regions also. Disc injuries can vary from a small tear of the outer disc, called the annulus fibrosis to a full disc herniation, where the jelly like substance in the centre of the disc called the nucleus pulposus bursts through the annulus fibrosis and often puts direct pressure on the spinal nerves or the spinal cord. When this results there is often pain to the areas these nerves supply. An example of this is what is commonly termed ‘sciatica’. This name is associated with lumber disc injuries that result in pain down the back of the leg to the feet. Lumbar disc injuries can also result in pain in the front or side of the leg but are less common. As well as pain there can also be tingling such as pins and needles, numbness and even loss of the use of certain areas.
Disc injuries sometimes occur in the neck (cervical) region as well. The same symptoms occur as in the lumbar region except down the arms and in the hands instead of the legs and feet. The treatment for disc injuries involves trying to take this pressure of the nervous system and restore proper nerve flow to the corresponding areas. We generally use a gentle technique called flexion distraction to achieve this, and have achieved amazing results in the past. Once we alleviate the pain then we address the posture, as this is often the reason for the injury in the first place. By addressing the posture, we improve the long term prognosis and reduce the chances of recurrence.