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Discs Don’t Slip!

Have you – or someone you know – had a ‘slipped disc’? 

Have you ever thought about what a slipped disc actually means?

What happens when discs slip – and where do they go?

Importantly, if you have a ‘slipped disc’, will you always have pain? Does it mean that you can’t lift anymore? Is your back is damaged for good?

Many people modify or stop their activities to avoid ‘exerting’ themselves. This could mean giving up a sport or a hobby such as gardening.

And if that is the case, how do you then modify your activities? Some people stop – perhaps stopping a sport or hobby that you enjoyed, such are gardening, or anything that might be considered ‘exerting’ yourself.  What are you doing instead?

In this article, we take a moment to think about common beliefs about ‘slipped discs’ and how they influence your daily habits.

It’s impossible for discs to slip!

Now what would you say if I told you that discs cannot slip – it is impossible!  That’s correct – it is impossible for discs to slip.

Discs are actually very strong – a study (on cadavers) found that it takes about 740lbs of force to compress the disc height 1mm in young subjects and 460lbs force in older subjects. In normal well-functioning live humans, this will be more due to extra strength and stability added by surrounding ligaments and muscles.

The disc lies between your vertebrae.  Every segment in your spine has a disc except for the C1-C2 level and the level between the bottom of your skull and the top vertebrae (C0-C1). Each disc forms a fibrocartilaginous joint between two vertebrae to allow slight movement of the vertebrae, and acts as a ligament to hold the vertebrae together. These joints are very strong.

Disc also act as shock absorbers in the spine – and important role which their structure is designed to do effortlessly.

Discs are composed of an outer fibrous ring referred to as the annulus fibrosus. The annulus fibrosus consists of several layers or rings of fibrocartilage made up of both type I and type II collagen. These layers surround an inner gel-like center material referred to as the nucleus pulposus. The nucleus pulposus contains loose fibers suspended in a muco-protein gel which helps to distribute pressure evenly across the disc and prevent excessive forces on the vertebral end plate.

IMAGE - structure of spinal disc

The vertebral end plate has two components – bony and cartilaginous, which create an exceptionally strong connection to the annulus of the disc making it Impossible for the disc to slip.

Live your life

If you think that you have a ‘slipped disc’ – don’t worry, you haven’t! The team at Shefford Osteopathic Clinic can get to the cause of your back pain and treat you accordingly. We’ll help to alleviate your pain and get you back to the sports and hobbies that you enjoy.

Similarly, if you have any questions about your spine, we’re happy to help. Please give us a call and we can help get your spine moving correctly.

At Shefford Osteopathic Clinic, we treat your pain and offer much more in doing so. We discuss what is happening with your body – how it works, why you’re in pain and how we can help. We consider a wide number of reasons for your pain which can include more than the physical pain presented.

This article was written by Karen Robinson, formerly a Registered Osteopath.