Disc Problems & Back Surgery

At this very moment people are lying in bed in agony from disc pain. Is surgery their only option? Can chiropractic help?


The intervertebral discs lie between the spinal bones and act like shock absorbers, preventing the bones from painfully rubbing together. They are made up of a tough fibrous outer ring (annular fibrosis) and a gel-like center (nucleus pulposus). Your 23 spinal discs help give your spine its sideways curves (a curved spine is sixteen times stronger than a straight one) and also join the vertebrae together. Discs contribute to your height – in the morning you are about 1/4″ to 1/2″ taller than you were the night before because your discs thin a little during the day and expand while you sleep.


Surprisingly, a disc may show signs of wear and tear as early as age 15. As you age, the disc may lose fluid and small cracks (lesions) form in the outer walls. This agin may be accelerated by the vertebral subluxation complex, a spinal distortion chiropractors correct. If the nucleus pulposus begins to push the annular fibrosis out of shape, it’s called herniation. If the herniation causes the disc to bulge a little, it’s called a protrusion. If the disc bulge goes into the spinal cord or puts extreme pressure on the lumbar nerves, it is a disc prolapse. A prolapse may cause such severe pain that sitting, standing, walking, or lifting could be impossible.

Disc degeneration may damage spinal nerves and contribute to conditions in the pelvic area. Among these are endometriosis, infections, (bladder, vaginal, kidney), urinary retention, prostate problems, miscarriage, sterility, sexual impotence, cystitis, menstrual cramps, and constipation. It is not uncommon for an individual who has a chronic back problem to suffer from one or more of the above problems as well.


The medical approach to disc problems is often a combination of painkillers, muscle relaxers, and physical therapy and/or surgery.

Many medical doctors and others find that patients who decide to pursue a non-operative approach towards disc herniation may not need the surgery. Back surgery usually performed by an orthopedic surgeon is at times warranted. We must mention here, however, that cauda equina syndrome, which includes buttock numbness, leg weakness and bladder and bowel dysfunction is considered by many to be the only absolute indication for surgery.

Surgery for people with back pain can be highly effective, however, results can vary widely. This approach is controversial with some individuals claiming that relief following back surgery is often short-lived and that after about six months to a year, many of the spinal problems recur.  Although a high number of patients who have had back surgery report no improvement within one year of having surgery, spinal surgeries are increasing much faster than the population. Then again, on the other side of the spectrum are those whose lives are changed for the better, with miniumal residual problems.


A proper alignment between the disc, the vertebrae and other structures in the spine is essential for healthy discs and that is why chiropractic has such an excellent record with disc sufferers, often saving them from the bleak prospect of surgery. Chiropractors have claimed reduction of lumbar disc protrusion as a result of spinal care.

Chiropractic spinal care may help prevent your spine from deterioration and your discs from herniation. Can chiropractic help even if you have already had surgery? YES!! Chiropractors can often help relieve the pain and frustration of failed back surgery and may help prevent future operations. Please, before your spine gets worse, have a chiropractic spinal check up.