Low back pain can be caused by many different things with the disc being one of them. The inter-vertebral disc is a round, rubbery pad that acts as a shock absorber between each vertebra of the spine to cushion the load placed on the body when it moves and to protect the nerves coming out both sides of the spine. It is made up of a tough, outer portion called the annulus fibrosus with a soft, jelly-like middle called the nucleus pulposus. If the disc becomes irritated or damaged, disc derangements and herniations can happen.
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If you have ever heard that you are taller in the morning compared to any other time during the day, well it’s actually true. Our spine literally becomes longer. The discs in our spine do not receive blood flow like most other joints in our body. Instead, when we lie down at night, fluid around and in our discs increases and hydration is at its highest first thing in the morning. The increased nutrients to our discs is a good thing, but there is a negative side effect.
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Most people know that you are not supposed to lift with your back. However, from this knowledge the saying “lift with your knees not your back” has evolved. Unfortunately, that’s only partially correct as this information alone can cause serious consequences to our knee joints down the road if this becomes the habit. There is a better way to lift.
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The cervical spine consists of 7 small bones called “vertebrae” stacked on top of each other, each of which is connected through a series of joints. These joints allow the neck to turn and bend, which is important for all of our everyday movements. By themselves the joints of the cervical spine are not very stable, so to protect the region, a complex system of muscles surrounds the spinal column to control movement and protect the area from injury. These muscles are arranged in several layers. The deepest layers consist of very small muscles that attach into each individual vertebrae and control and protect each individual joint. The middle layers span across several joints, and the outer layer consists of the larger, more powerful muscles that run the entire length of the neck, all the way from head to the shoulders.
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X-ray, MRI, and diagnostic ultrasound are some of the great imaging tools we have at our disposal. They can be extremely helpful with many musculoskeletal conditions. They can show structural changes like arthritis, disc herniation, and soft tissue tears. They can help us make a decision on who is the right doctor to see (surgeon, chiropractor, etc.). So what happens when someone has pain but imaging, such as an x-ray or MRI tells us absolutely nothing? On the other hand, can someone have positive MRI or x-ray findings but no symptoms? The point of all this is not to say that imaging is not important because it can be, but how can we determine if someone needs it?
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The spinal column consists of a series of small bones called “vertebrae” which are stacked on top of each other. Each of these bones is connected to one another through a series of joints including the intervertebral discs and the facet joints. These joints between each vertebrae allow the spinal column to bed, which is important to all of our everyday movements. However, spine mobility comes at a cost because it makes the spine less stable. To protect the spine, a complex series of muscles surrounds the spinal column to control movement and protect the area from injury.
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