Why “Disc Problems” May be a Sign of Something More Serious
It’s not uncommon for patients to have an MRI showing a bulging disc in their back. But the bigger question remains, what’s causing it and how do you correct it? Unless there is a major accident, disc problems don’t arise overnight, and in nearly all cases, they are simply a secondary condition.
So what do I mean by secondary condition? The spine is built with a specific structure that has certain curves to act as a “shock absorber”. When structural shifts occur in the spine, it’s no longer able to handle the normal stress load that’s required. When this happens the stress is then transferred to the disc in a specific area and over time it begins to wear out and may become a “bulging disc” or “herniated disc” (or any of the common terms for this condition). These often create an assortment of secondary conditions (ie pain, tight muscles, sciatica, muscle spasms, etc).
While many patients choose surgery, and some get good results, others are left with additional problems down the road. If we take a closer look, you’ll realize that when a structural shift occurs, much of the stress is transferred to a specific area of the spine. As discussed previously, when something is shifted out of place, the weight on the spine is no longer distributed evenly and becomes concentrated in one specific area. This will be the area where the “disc problem” occurs. Most surgeons will go in a fuse the two vertebra together, the ones above and below the disc. The only problem with this approach is it simply transfers the specific stress area up or down 1 segment of the spine. While relief may occur initially, it’s common to see the same problem begin to develop at this new stress point, a year or two down the road. Why is this? It’s simply because the disc issue is secondary in nature, it’s compensating for a structural issue in the spine. What’s happened is they’ve created a new stress point that will suffer the same degenerative effects as the first one.
The better option for many people is to take care of the primary issue. Correct the structural shift in the spine, and you’ll see the secondary conditions (the disc) alleviate itself in many cases.
In the photo below you’ll see the spine on the left has a lumbar curve towards the front (the left of the photo). On the right you’ll see the curve is structural shifted to the right, reducing the curve, making the spine straighter. In this case it’s lost the normal curve and the extra stress is being applied, causing the disc issue (apparent in the red circle). This shift will result in many secondary conditions such as pain, sciatica, muscle spasms, etc.