The intervertebral discs contain collagen fibers and a cushiony, gelatinous substance. Their function is to cushion and support the bones of the spine and to provide flexibility and movement. In a disc protrusion, bulge, herniation, or "slipped disc," the disc space has reduced, the collagen fibers have weakened, and the gelatinous substance is able to press out, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves.
Why does this occur? The disc space reduces due to the effects of improper spinal alignment and movement over time. The spine is designed to distribute weight and motion effectively throughout it's length. The surrounding muscles and ligaments also work to protect the spine by providing stability and distributing forces effectively. When that isn't happening, a disproportionate amount of pressure can occur at one or more areas of the spine. L5, or the lowest disc in the spine, is one of the most common places this can happen. However, reduced disc space and unhealthy intervertebral discs also commonly occurs in other areas of the spine, such as in the neck.
Improper spinal alignment and movement occurs when the communication between the brain and the body are reduced over the course of days, months, and years. The disc is actually the last problem in a chain of events. This is why people often report performing a relatively small movement when they are suddenly overtaken by the pain of a disc protrusion. The small movement isn't what caused the problem. The problem, the improper spinal biomechanics and movement patterns, as well as unhealed injuries, occurs over time. The small movement is literally the "straw that broke the camel's back."
Conventional treatment and therapies for disc protrusions are inevitably centered on the area of protrusion, thought to be the "cause" of the pain. However, without addressing the nervous system as a whole, which is in control of the connection between the brain and the body and the ability of our spine to have proper biomechanics, similar problems will most likely show up elsewhere. For example, it is now being found that spinal surgeries to address disc bulges and protrusions simply set the stage for the need for more surgeries. These additional surgeries often are done at the area of the spine directly above or below the last surgery. This phenomenon shows that the problem is the functioning of the nervous system and spine as a whole-- the system, not the individual parts.
Drugs and painkillers also set the stage for more problems by further cutting off the signal between the brain and the body. Think of pain as your body's last ditch effort to alert your brain that something's got to change in the way you live your life. Cutting off the pain signal may provide temporary relief, but it does not address the problem and actually can create a much larger problem.
Furthermore, research shows that pain is not a good indicator of the amount of disc degeneration or protrusion in the spine. In other words, there are people walking around with herniated discs who don't even know it. And there are other people who report high levels of pain with disproportionately small disc protrusions evidenced on MRI. All of this again points to the issue of the overall level of coordination and communication in your body, through the nervous system. The greater the system-wide experience of stress and overwhelm, the more likely we are to experience improper spinal biomechanics, unhealthy intervertebral discs, and pain signals that do not serve their purpose.
Network Care is an amazingly effective form of care for the pain and dysfunction associated with disc problems. Network Care gently nurtures your nervous system so that you can feel relaxed, connected, and safe, and so that healing can occur. There are no hard or sudden adjustments that can cause the nervous system to go into greater stress and result in more pain and dysfunction. When the body relaxes and the brain and the body are communicating better, the ligaments, muscles, bones, and discs all work together the way they should. When used as a form of lifetime wellness care, Network Care prevents the chain of events that causes disc dysfunction.