I love this question, and I hear it often from my chiropractic patients in Loveland. It’s a simple answer with complicating factors. Ask your dentist how a cavity starts and you’ll get a straightforward answer about sugars, bacteria and acid formation, or something to that effect. Ask an M.D., D.O. or D.C. how back pain begins and watch out! You’ll get so many different answers.
My answer is back pain begins with disc (or intervertebral disc) damage. What? Think of it this way: Buy a new car right off the lot and the first part you’ll replace is the tires. Your inter-vertebral discs are like tires. Does a tire explode when you drive the car off the lot or even if you drive 5,000 miles? No, it better not. It’s more likely due to injury or wear over time: hitting a pot-hole, or driving on gravel versus pavement.
Today cars can tell you if your tires are going bad, going flat or need to be replaced. Your car does this with computer sensors. Well guess what also has sensors? Your inter-vertebral discs. The sensors in your body are nerves that connect the outer third of the disc to muscles, skin and ligaments, and they send information to your spinal cord and brain.
When your discs show signs of wear and tear (degenerative disc disease) they send an alarm and alter function to your body in the form of symptoms. The small nerves that supply the disc with connections to muscles, skin, and ligaments send signals: stiffness, aching, and/or sharp pain. Signals from the “bad” disc will also change contractility (the ability for self-contraction) of muscles or shut them off completely.
These disc symptoms are often first diagnosed as a sprain or strain (muscle/ligament problem). These “muscle problems” are really nerve problems from a disc telling the body to stop moving around, just like the computer in your car telling you to stop driving on bad tires. While I do consider disc tearing a sprain, it is a sprain with neurological repercussions.
You can’t change your discs the way you change your car tires, but you can get help for degenerative disc disease. There are many treatment options available today to provide help and back pain relief for our patients at our offices in Loveland and Fort Collins, including chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and massage.
Dr. Trenton Scott, D.C., Dipl.Ac., graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in 1994 and has been practicing ever since. In 1995, he founded Scott Family Health in Loveland, CO, alongside his wife, Dr. Gina Scott. Over the past twenty years, he has expanded Scott Family Health to include chiropractic, acupuncture, physical therapy and massage therapy services, with the highest expectations for all doctors and practitioners on staff, and the mission to educate, serve and inspire well-being, one individual at a time.