How Does Spinal Decompression Help a Disc Tear?

How Does Spinal Decompression Help a Disc Tear?

A bit of anatomy is helpful to understand a disc injury and how to heal it. You have discs between each vertebra from the upper part of your neck to the bottom of your spine – 23 total. The discs separate each vertebra and allow slight movement between each vertebra above and below and act as “shock absorbers”. There are two parts to each disc, a soft inner gel and tough outer fibers (nucleus pulposus and annular fibrosus). The outer fibers both contain the soft gel and attach to the bones above and below.

spinal disc image with vertebrae, spinal cord, nerve, annulus fibrosus, nucleus pulposus, and intervertebral foramen labeled.

A torn disc means that the outer fibers of the disc have torn and the inner, softer nucleus is pushing through the tear. This is caused by one of two forces, or as you’ll, see a combination:

  1. “Shearing” force. This occurs when one vertebra is forced forward or backward on the vertebra below, creating a shear and tearing the disc. For instance, bending forward and lifting creates a shear force on a disc and may cause the outer disc fibers to fail.
  2. Vertical compression – a force either from above (such as lifting a heavy object) or below (landing hard on your feet or seat). This vertical or axial force compresses the disc beyond its capacity and the outer disc layers fail.
  3. Adding twisting to a shear and axial force is often the “straw” that tears a disc. This occurs when you bend, twist and lift.
heavy lifting boxes causes back injury
How do discs heal?

Discs do not have any direct blood supply and this impacts how they heal. The only way discs receive oxygen and nutrients is by “imbibing” (drinking) fluid from the bones above and below, and this drinking only happens when the disc is moved. In a healthy disc, this works just fine to keeping the disc happy. With an injured disc (as with any injured tissue) there is an increased demand for oxygen and nutrients.  As you can imagine, this drinking is not very efficient especially if you can’t move because of pain and spasm. There are three very specific techniques we use to accelerate the healing process of a torn disc:

How spinal decompression helps heal disc injuries

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical treatment option that can be used to treat various conditions that affect the spine, including disc tears. Spinal decompression therapy involves the use of a traction to gently stretch the spine and relieve pressure on the affected discs. Here are some ways that spinal decompression therapy may help with a disc tear:

Relieve pressure: Spinal decompression therapy can help to relieve pressure on the affected nerve and disc, which may help to reduce pain and inflammation.

Promote healing: By reducing pressure on the affected disc, spinal decompression therapy may promote healing by allowing nutrients and oxygen to flow more freely into the affected area.

Improve mobility: Spinal decompression therapy can help to improve spinal mobility, which can be beneficial for individuals with limited mobility due to pain and discomfort caused by a disc tear.

Non-invasive: Spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that does not involve surgery, which can be a more attractive option for some individuals with disc tears.

It is important to note that spinal decompression therapy is not appropriate for all individuals with disc tears, and it may not be effective in all cases. A specially trained chiropractor can evaluate your individual situation and determine if spinal decompression therapy is a suitable treatment option for your condition. If you are suffering from a disc injury, contact Vizuri Health Center today for a consultation to get you back to health and out of pain.

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