Picture this: you are bending over to put your socks on when you are greeted by a sharp, searing bolt of pain in your lower back. It is incredibly unpleasant, and has seemingly come out of nowhere. Long after your socks are on, it continues as a nagging pain, sometimes peaking in intensity when you bend a certain way, or sit down too quickly. You might be suffering from something called disc degeneration.
What Is Disc Degeneration?
You can think of discs as the shock absorbers and pressure distributors of the spine, little cushions wedged between the hard vertebrae. Along with your facet joints, your discs help guide and facilitate the movement of your spine, and the gel they contain in their nucleus pulpsosus helps absorb shock.
Over time and with continued stress, the nucleus pulposus may be pushed backwards, its gel interior bulging or herniating from the vertebrae, and small tears may appear in the outer disc wall, called the annulus fibrosus. The nucleus pulposus will lose some water over time as well, rendering its shock absorption less effective.
What Symptoms Should You Watch For?
Shooting pain, or “lightning bolt” pain in your lower back or neck could tip you off to disc degeneration. It may also manifest itself through leg pain, or numbness and weakness around the legs and buttocks. Commonly, it is acutely felt when bending or twisting a certain way.
If you experience any kind of back pain, regardless of its duration or severity, you should make it a point to visit a chiropractor, who can work with you, develop a treatment plan and help you say goodbye to your back pain for good.
How to Avoid It
There is no way to completely avoid disc degeneration, but by practicing healthy spinal posture, maintaining the natural curvature of your back over time, you can keep its effects to a minimum. If you are experiencing pain from disc degeneration, or to avoid further pain, certain activities involving twisting and bending should be avoided.
How to Deal with the Back Pain
As mentioned, the best way to deal with back pain caused by disc degeneration is to visit a chiropractor. They will give you pointers on stretching, sitting and sleeping, as well as advise on certain daily routines that might be aggravating the pain. They may also perform spinal adjustments to help mitigate the pain.
Especially if the pain is accompanied by numbness, tingling and weakness, it is important to consult with a corrective chiropractor. While other drastic measures are available for severe disc degeneration, your first line of defense should be your chiropractor.
It might seem like putting on your sock caused you the pain, but it was actually the painful result of a long period of disc degeneration. If you are experiencing lighting bolt back or neck pain, chronic pain or any other symptom congruent with disc degeneration, the sooner you get it checked out, the better. Pain relief should never have to wait.