Disc Injuries

One of the most common back related injuries that we hear people talk about is the “slipped disc”. This is a vague, non-specific term often used to describe various types of back pain.

Intervertebral discs are the spongy shock absorbers that exist between each of the vertebrae in our spine and make up 25% of the height of our spine. In reality, discs are very firmly attached to the surfaces of these vertebral bones, and are unable to “slip” anywhere. When a disc is damaged, it is actually said to be herniated, and this can happen to various degrees of severity.

A herniated disc can cause excruciating pain if the nerve root in the vicinity of the herniated part is being compressed. Even if the herniated part is not touching the disc directly, swelling or inflammation of the surrounding tissue can cause localised irritation and compress the nerve as well.

The pain from a herniated disc is often radiating or shooting down one leg. There can also be numbness, weakness or pins and needles. These symptoms are often increased by bending, sneezing or coughing.

If you were to present to the clinic with such symptoms you would be carefully assessed and likely sent for imaging to provide extra information to determine the extent of your condition and if gentle chiropractic adjustments can help you. Studies have shown that even in cases of substantial disc herniations, conservative chiropractic care can be of great benefit in assisting individuals with disc injuries. Occasionally spinal surgery is warranted in rare cases for severe disc injuries but a best case outcome is to help an individual resolve their pain and strengthen the injured area without undergoing risky spinal surgery.

At NT Chiropractic Health & Wellness Centre, our chiropractors are trained in low force techniques that assist people with disc injuries in a gentle and effective manner to overcome their pain and disability. They also have a range of practical at-home-solutions and lifestyle modification suggestions to assist in the long term prevention of these debilitating episodes.

For further reading the World Federation of Chiropractic has cited the following as a list of the most recent, high quality scientific studies relating to chiropractic care for disc injuries.


Kadow T1, Sowa G, Vo N, Kang JD.Molecular basis of intervertebral disc degeneration and herniations: what are the important translational questions? ClinOrthopRelat Res. 2015 Jun;473(6):1903-12.

Kepler, Christopher K. et al. The molecular basis of intervertebral disc degeneration. The Spine Journal, Volume 13 , Issue 3 , 318 – 330

Freemont AJ1, Watkins A, Le Maitre C, Baird P, Jeziorska M, Knight MT, Ross ER, O'Brien JP, Hoyland JA. Nerve growth factor expression and innervation of the painful intervertebral disc. J Pathol. 2002 Jul;197(3):286-92.

Rajasekaran S1, Babu JN, Arun R, Armstrong BR, Shetty AP, Murugan S. ISSLS prize winner: A study of diffusion in human lumbar discs: a serial magnetic resonance imaging study documenting the influence of the endplate on diffusion in normal and degenerate discs. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2004 Dec 1;29(23):2654-67.

Grunhagen T1, Shirazi-Adl A, Fairbank JC, Urban JP. Intervertebral disk nutrition: a review of factors influencing concentrations of nutrients and metabolites. OrthopClin North Am. 2011 Oct;42(4):465-77.

ViiLeemann S, Peterson CK, Schmid C, Anklin B, Humphreys BK. Outcomes of acute and chronic patients with magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed symptomatic lumbar disc herniations receiving high-velocity, low-amplitude, spinal manipulative therapy: a prospective observational cohort study with one-year follow-up. J Manipulative PhysiolTher. 2014 Mar-Apr;37(3):155-63.

Peterson CK, Schmid C, Leemann S, Anklin B, Humphreys BK. Outcomes from magnetic resonance imaging-confirmed symptomatic cervical disk herniation patients treated with high-velocity, low-amplitude spinal manipulative therapy: a prospective cohort study with 3-month follow-up. J Manipulative PhysiolTher. 2013 Oct;36(8):461-7.

W. Mark Erwin, DC, PhD and Katherine E. Hood, DC. The cellular and molecular biology of the intervertebral disc: A clinician’s primer. J Can Chiropr Assoc. 2014 Sep; 58(3): 246–257.

Michael A. Adams, PhD; Peter J. Roughley, PhD. What is Intervertebral Disc Degeneration, and What Causes It? Spine. 2006;31(18):2151-2161.