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What Is A "Slipped Disc?"

Did you know that flying squirrels don’t fly . . . that guinea pigs are neither pigs nor are they from Guinea.

Your “Funny Bone” is neither funny (when you bump it) nor is it a bone. In fact, it is actually the ulnar nerve as it passes behind the elbow.

A "slipped disc" is yet another misnomer. Allow me to explain.

A spinal disc is a cushion that separates two adjacent bones in your spine.

The outer edge of your spinal disc is called the annulus fibrosis and is firmly attached to the bottom of the bone above and to the top of the bone below. It acts like a ligament (holding bone to bone).

In the center of the disc is a jelly-like substance, called the nucleus pulposus that acts like a cushion. It is made up mostly of water.

If the center of the disc becomes dehydrated, the bones will come closer together and the outer edge of the disc can bulge outward. This can be seen on an MRI and realistically anyone over the age of 35 will have at least one “bulging disc.”

A bulging disc may or may not cause pain depending on whether or not the bulging disc ends up on a nerve.

Another condition of the disc is called a prolapse or a herniated disc. A herniation forms when one particular part of the disc becomes damaged and bulges out forming something that looks like a polyp.

Once again, this herniated disc may or may not cause pain, depending on whether or not it is pressing on a nerve or even more importantly, the spinal cord.

The question is, what can you do if you have a bulging, herniated or “slipped disc?”

Although, looking at an MRI may seem like the “high-tech” way to determine what is wrong with you, the clinical importance of the MRI is secondary to a good old-fashioned history and examination.

Studies have been performed where they take 100 people. 50 with back pain, 50 without back pain. They MRI the people and a radiologist reads the MRI. There is no correlation between bulges and herniations on MRI and a person having pain!

In other words, the radiologist can't tell who has pain and who does NOT have pain based on the MRI.

What does that tell us? It tells us that a disc herniation (slipped disc) may or may not cause you pain AND you may have back pain with or without a disc injury.

If you go to a medical doctor with a “slipped disc,” you will most likely get some pain medicine, maybe some muscle relaxers and possibly even a shot.

If that doesn’t work, you might get sent to physical therapy and if that doesn’t work you may get invited to visit a spine surgeon who may or may decide to do surgery on your spine.

It is well documented in the research literature that chiropractic care is a safe and effective solution to back pain . . . with or without disc herniation.

We see a lot of people in our office that have back pain. Some have disc herniations. Some don’t. Most do very well with a combination of chiropractic care and home exercises.

If you or someone you know is dealing with back pain . . . whether you have a “slipped disc” or not, we would love to help.

You can either call the office at (417) 598-0080 or click the button below and schedule an appointment online now.

God Bless,

Dr. Tim

This information should not be substituted for medical or chiropractic advice. Any and all health care concerns, decisions, and actions must be done through the advice and counsel of a health care professional who is familiar with your updated medical history.

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