Didn’t your mom ever tell you to not pick at that scab?
We know, we know. It is so tempting and sometimes the urge is far too strong. However, the more you pick the scab, the longer it will take to heal.
Same concept goes for spinal disc injuries. It will heal more efficiently and quickly if you resist the urge to keep "picking" at it.
So what happens when a spinal disc injury occurs? A disc bulge or a full blown disc herniation is similar to squeezing a delicious jelly filled doughnut. If you squish the doughnut on one side, the jelly will squeeze out of the other side!
There are intervertebral discs (jelly doughnuts) in between the vertebral bones in the spine.
If the nucleus pulposus (jelly) is pushed out of the centre of the disc, it creates inflammation, pain, reduced range of motion and function, and may even effect the nearby nerves leading to symptoms of sciatica, leg pain, muscle weakness, and sensory changes. If left untreated, a disc injury may result in bowel and/or bladder dysfunction and compromised limb function.
Most often, intervertebral discs are injured (bulged or herniated) via the following mechanisms:
1) Prolonged Poor Spinal Posture
Yes your mom was right! Sit up straight! Sitting in a slouched posture over and over again is like slowly applying pressure to that jelly doughnut. Eventually, something has to give. By maintaining proper posture and even distribution of load, including body weight, on the intervertebral discs, the jelly is more likely to stay in the middle of the doughnut, right where it needs to be!
2) Repetitive Flexion Under Load
Repetitive flexion under load is similar to pressing down on one side of the doughnut with a force multiple times. These repetitive forces are similar to poorly performed exercises such as sit ups, crunches, squats, deadlifts, running, etc. When you add extra weight to repetitive poorly controlled movement, it is just a matter of time before injury occurs.
3) Quick/Dramatic Load to a Flexed Spine
This is like swinging a sledge hammer at one side of a jelly filled doughnut. What do you really expect? A great example of this type of injury is moving a heavy paving stone. Picking up the paving stone with a flexed spine, twisting the spine to reposition the stone, and then placing the stone back down with a flexed spine is CRAZY bad for your discs! Bad news bears!
Here at MRWC we love treating disc injuries as our treatment is very effective, quick, and long lasting IF you work with us. Healing takes two, so you have to meet us half way and do the work. Treatment typically includes class IV therapeutic laser, flexion-distraction, adjustments, soft tissue therapy, and lots of functional rehabilitation! We focus on correcting faulty movement patterns and stabilizing the core in order to prevent future injury.
So make sure you come see us and whatever you do, do not pick the scab!