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Lumbar Discs

KEY FACTS

  1. The disc is the most common source of ongoing low back pain in adults.
  2. Is the main weight bearing part of the joint. Is under immense stress with everyday tasks. Is very strong and elastic when healthy. Allows spine to move whist enduring high levels of force, helps absorb shock. Gives you constant control, support and protection for your spine. Gives you ‘spring’ when you walk, run, jump and lift.
  3. Made of rings of elastic ligaments firmly woven into the bone above and below and contains a jelly/semifluid centre. It can tear, bulge or herniate but it cannot ‘slip out’ (image 1).
  4. Has no direct blood supply (pressure inside disc is too high). Instead, it relies on oxygen and nutrients to soak in from the bone above and below (image 2). Long term joint stiffness can hamper this critical process.
  5. Only the outer fibres of disc are pain sensitive so internal tears can develop and weaken the disc without pain (image 3).
  6. It is not uncommon for a disc to de-condition/degrade over months and years before pain begins. This can result from stresses and strains of normal life, prolonged sitting, lack of varied spine use, local muscle de-conditioning, heavy trauma or genetic factors.
  7. Limited or uneven joint motion over time may predispose a disc to injury. Limited spine motion can also contribute to de-conditioning of local supporting muscles.
  8. Reduced disc strength and elasticity can lead to increased stress on the guiding joints (facets) and increased stress on, and reactive guarding by, local spine muscles.
  9. Ongoing disc malfunction/pain and local muscle crisis/guarding can feed each other, leading to a viscous cycle.

Solution

Improve your understanding of Anatomy, Role and Process of recovery.

Gradually restore motion, condition and neurological control to the joint segment (in all directions) to:

  1. Aid disc repair capacity
  2. Recondition local supportive muscles
  3. Reduce excessive ‘guarding and sensitisation’ by the brain

Discs can take 3-12 months to maximally repair. Pain relief will typically occur well before maximum repair occurs.