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Lumbar Disc Herniation

The discs of the spine have been traditionally described as shock absorbers of the spine. Yet the disc is a joint (synchondrosis) and thus is involved in transmitting force from one plane of motion to another. The lumbar spine vertebrae are shaped to facilitate forward and backward movement (why an old test of a bad back was touching your toes).

Repeated poor (un-coordinated) movement leads to abnormal loading and eventually wear and tear. In a Danish study the natural progression of do nothing in the situation of having a disc problem showed that being careful for 8 years did not change the disc condition. Rest and moving in the same muscle patterns leads to the same symptom of disc injury. Chiropractic care helps you by teaching your body to move differently spreading the load of your activity or poor posture more evenly. A disc problem is a product of how you move in your body sub-consciously.

In an MRI study in Taiwan the effect of conservative care (bodywork and exercises) showed that a ‘natural’ resolution of disc herniation is entirely possible in 70 – 96% of cases dependent upon disc herniation type. A complete resolution as seen on MRI was achieved without surgery in 15-43% of cases depending upon type of disc herniation.

Yes it is entirely reasonable, with the help of your Chiropractor, if you have a sequestered type disc herniation to achieve an improvement 96% of the time, 70% of the time with disc extrusion type herniation, and 41% of the time with disc protrusion type herniation.

In vivo (cadaveric) studies disc material can bulge on one side with repetitive movement and then be sucked in and pushed out the other side if the repeated movement is changed to the opposite direction. Even though this study approach is a bit simplistic for real life and a fully intact body it shows that a disc shape can be altered dramatically by the forces being placed evenly or unevenly. Even force placement means your discs will last a life-time. Uneven loading through unhelpful sub conscious muscular recruitment patterns will lead to degenerative disc disease.

Research suggests don’t leave it visit your Chiropractor looking for a resolution of your symptoms in a 3 -6 month period and a correction of your movement patterns within a 12-18 month period. If these time scales seem long you could do nothing and always have disc disease.

Danish Study: Kjaer P, Tunset A, Boyle E, Secher Jenson T (2016). Progression of lumbar disc herniations over an eight-year period in a group of adult Danes from the general population – a longitudinal MRI study using quantitative measures. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 17:26
Taiwan Study: Chiu CC, Chuang TY, Chang KH, Wu CH, Lin PW, Hsu WY. The probability of spontaneous regression of lumbar herniated disc: a systematic review. Clin Rehabil. 2015;29(2):184–95

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