Disc Injuries

Disc injury?

The Disc is a structure that lies between the bones of the spine, There are 23 of them and they act like little shock absorbers also separating the bones allowing room for a nerve to come from the spinal cord which allows your brain to communicate with your body. Discs do not have a direct blood supply and get their nutrition through movement, so the less a person moves, the less healthy they become.

Trouble arises when the disc becomes injured, symptoms are usually back or neck pain with associated leg or arm symptoms such as numbness, weakness or pins and needles. Most people have heard of disc problems. Many unfortunately also suffer from them. When injured the disc can change its shape and create a bulge which can press against a nerve that causes the complaints in the arms/hands or legs/feet. To simplify things, think of the disc as a marshmallow and  it is starting to flatten out losing its shape. There are different treatments depending on how severe the disc injury is, the best conservative treatment without surgery is decompression or what is known as traction. Doctor Luttrell practices a tecqnique utilizing a device known and the vertebral distraction pump. It is a handheld instrument that can apply specific traction to the involved disc, pumping fluids back into the disc helping to make it healthier. While sometimes surgery is sometimes necessary, in most cases it can be avoided with treatment using the vertebral distraction pump.  Most of the time, when backs and discs go bad, prudent doctors of all disciplines recommend conservative management for at least a month or two before a surgical intervention is explored, except in extreme, rare cases.

The course of care with the distraction pump varies patient to patient. It depends on many factors such as the severity of the herniation, chronicity, stage of arthritis, age, weight and even diet. I have seen people better after just one visit and others that need frequent visits due to their lifestyle. Each person is different

Treatment consists of the doctor using the hand-held instrument and placing it on top of the skin and very specifically at the level of the disc problem. With a gentle squeeze by the doctor, it nudges the adjacent vertebra apart, creating a 2-millimeter separation between them. It also opens the facet joints, which can also relieve a lot of pain and pressure. This gentle opening creates a centripetal (towards the middle) force, which behaves like a vacuum, essentially “sucking” the herniated IVD material back into its normal anatomical position. This can relieve the pressure on the nerve and the associated pain and dysfunction, and allow the disc to decompress and heal.

One Important thing you can do for your disc injury, which I wrote about in my blog, is take the right supplements.

You have heard it before, you are what you eat, when you have an injured disc you want to feed it the right nutrients to help it. As a disc deteriorates it will change, growing new nerves that have only one purpose, to transmit pain. These new nerves are called C fibers. Also as a disc deteriorates it will go through stages of bad to worse, they are called modic changes, modic 1 is reversable, modic 2 may be reversable, modic 3 is not. The bottom line is 75% of people with modic changes have constant back pain, there is never a moment without pain. Pain is there when you wake up and there when you go to bed, it can even wake you up as it hurts to turn over in bed. You must give a disc as much help as you can to prevent those changes and the right supplements is a big part in that help.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate with MSM complex is the supplement that is going to slow if not stop those changes. In addition certain foods that you eat can cause inflammation and others decrease it and when taking a supplement you want one that decreases inflammation. Omega 3 is a natural Anti-Inflammatory and should be part of your daily routine as well.

What do I specifically recommend? 1. Glucosamine and Chondroitin sulfate with MSM, 2. DHA and EPA ( these are omega 3's), 3. Grape seed extract ( helps with circulation and is a anti-oxidant) 4. Vitamin C, 5. Citrus Bioflavoniods (anti-oxidant), 6. alpha lipoic acid ( anti-oxidant), 7. Manganese which helps with bone structure and is a anti-oxidant.

I must add, I do not carry these in my office, I do not want you to think that I am pushing my own supplement line, If you look you will find all of these ingredients in one product which is fantastic! Also I must remind you, discs get their nutrition through movement, so you need to try to walk, swim, or ride a bike, if movement is very limited for you try using a old school rocking chair as the rocking motion is a form of movement that helps as well, and if possible see a chiropractor. 


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