At Venturis Clinic, Dr. Alvin Philipose treats disc injuries almost every day. Lower back pain is perhaps the most common reason that people come into our office looking for help. After all, lower back pain is the #1 cause of disability in America, affecting more than 80% of people at some point during their lives. There are many different causes of lower back pain such as a muscle strain or vertebral subluxation, but one of the causes of more severe lower back pain is an injury to an intervertebral disc.
Before discussing what causes disc injuries and what kinds of treatments can be effective, it is important to understand exactly what is happening in the disc when it becomes injured. Intervertebral discs are made of fibrocartilage and rest between each vertebra in the spine. They act as shock absorbers in the spine, absorbing the stress and pressure that everyday life places on our spine. The disc itself is made of a jelly-like center called the nucleus that is surrounded by several rings of cartilage. The nucleus moves with our movements to provide continued balance and force absorption to keep our spine healthy and strong.
Due to prolonged causes such as repetitive movements, or more immediate causes such as trauma, the rings of cartilage can be damaged. When this happens, the nucleus of the disc takes the path of least resistance and pushes into the damaged space. This is typically not symptomatic, so the individual would not know at this time that a disc injury was occurring. As this condition progresses and damage is sustained to the last ring of cartilage, the disc material pushes out from the disc into the spinal canal where the spinal cord and nerves are. This can be an extremely painful occurrence in the lower back and can even cause pain to travel down the legs as well (sciatica). At this time, immediate intervention is required if you want to have the best prognosis going forward.
Traditional medicine usually treats disc herniation using opioid medications for pain or steroid injections, but some discs require surgical intervention if less invasive treatments are unsuccessful. However, there are more conservative treatments available that are effective at treating the root cause of the problem, thus helping the symptoms to dissipate. Dr. Alvin Philipose treats people with disc injuries on a daily basis, and they are ready to help you, too.