Wellness Articles

Your Body And Your Automobile

What do our body and our automobile have in common?  Our body and our car have very complex operating systems that we take for granted and infrequently think about unless something goes wrong. 

Years ago, you may have learned to drive a car with a manual gearshift, which was located either in the steering column or in the floor of the car.  You learned deliberate motions to move the gears through each position.  Most cars today have gears that shift automatically while driving and you are not even aware of these movements. 

In Many ways, our body functions like a car with an automatic gear shift.  Every second, the human body automatically performs millions of vital functions, without us even being aware that it is occurring.

The brain, the master controller of the body, sends messages to all parts of the body through the nerve system.  These millions of detailed processes are ordered and controlled by the brain.  A critical element in this communication system is the spinal cord, which is housed within the spinal canal.  This canal has many openings in the vertebrae through which the spinal cord and its membranes pass to all parts of the body.  The vertebrae protect the delicate nerve system.  This system is a miraculous network of inborn intelligence and it enables the body to heal itself and regulate itself, as long as there is no interruption in the system.  However, stress and strains of daily living can cause the spinal vertebrae to misalign and cause an interruption of the communication process.

“Health comes from within. When the nerve system is clear from any interference and the communication from the brain to organs and tissues is 100%, the function of the body will be normal, and normal function brings health.”

We seldom think about the complex and automatic operation of our bodies or our cars unless there is a problem.  When we have car trouble, we take our car to a car mechanic to fix the problem because cars cannot heal themselves.  Similarly, when our bodies express symptoms and we feel sick, we often take over-the-counter medications or we go to a health care provider who may prescribe medications.  However, we may forget the first step in restoring health is to locate the cause of the problem.  Remember, the body is capable of healing itself, as long as there is no interference with its inborn intelligence.  The next step toward health is to correct the cause of the problem. 

This leads us directly to chiropractic, the only healthcare system focusing on the correction of misaligned spinal vertebrae that interfere with the body’s communication system.  When these misalignments are corrected, the body’s inborn intelligence can function properly again.  This restores the body’s natural ability to heal and regulate itself, without the need for medications. 

For over 114 years, chiropractors have empowered people to understand that every function of the body is controlled and directed through the nerve system. 

In this blog, I will share with you a wealth of valuable information that is guaranteed to address many of your concerns and answer pressing questions.  It will absolutely provide you with all of the tools necessary to empower you to make the best health choices for you and your family and guide you on a path to “optimal health.”

Disc Bulges

Life around my house is about to change.  I am having some major renovations done to my old house and I have to move out of it for the work to be done.  This, much to my chagrin, involves planning, packing, and moving heavy items.  Ordinarily there would be no big deal about a move, but I happen to have a vested interest in my lower back and have injured it before.  Maybe that is why I have seen so many people in the past couple of weeks with disc troubles – I needed a not so gentle reminder of how it all feels.  There is a lot to know about disc bulges and how to treat them.  I hope you find it useful.

First of all, there is a major difference in a disc bulge and a disc rupture.  About 80% of the walking population has a lumbar disc bulge.  Most of them are asymptomatic and those who have them don’t even know it.  The disc material is very tough and cartilaginous.  If a disc is healthy it provides shock absorption and cushioning for the vertebrae, or spinal bones.  As a result of normal wear and tear, the outer coating, or annulus, of a disc dries out and develops cracks.  The soft inner material of the disc, the nucleus, might leak out through these cracks and this creates what is commonly referred to as a bulging disc.  If it is irritated enough, the disc material will put pressure on the nerve roots which exit the spinal cord through tiny holes at the rear of the area occupied by the disc. This results in annoying and sometimes severe pain. Often the pain is not in the lower back, but is in the buttocks, hip, back of the thigh or calf, or even in the foot. This pain is following the path of the sciatic nerve, which is the most commonly irritated nerve when a disc is bulging.   Sometimes the pain is very difficult to free yourself from if it isn’t treated soon enough.  Chiropractors are experts in this field, and there are many wonderful conservative techniques available to us to treat this problem.  Ask your chiropractor about flexion/distraction techniques, which are specifically for decompressing bulging discs.  If you can get this type of treatment early enough, you might be able to avoid further damage to the disc and thereby avoid surgical treatment.

In the case of a disc rupture, portions of the disc material are actually outside the annular fibers of the disc itself.  In some cases, fragments of the disc erupt into the spinal canal, and this is the cause of nerve root compression.  Disc rupture is more serious than a disc bulge, and should be treated accordingly.  Conservative treatment of a disc injury should reap results in as little as two to three weeks.  If serious symptoms persist, other treatment should be sought.

The best way to avoid serious injury to your lower back and discs is to act as if you have a disc bulge already since about 80% of us do.  Always bend with your legs when you pick up anything.  Bending at the waist, even to pick up something that is not heavy, puts increased pressure and strain on the discs of your lower back.  The large muscles of your legs are better equipped to handle heavy lifting than the layers of smaller muscles in your lower back.  Pull objects closer to your body before you try to pick them up, as leaning and lifting simultaneously are a deadly combination for discs.  Stretch your lower back every morning before you get out of bed.  There is no substitute for limber, warmed muscles when you call on them to work for you.  Getting out of bed is a big request when your body has been at rest all night long, and your lower back knows it.  Another simple way to keep your lower back healthy is to tighten the muscles in your abdomen.  If there is too much weight out front with no musculature to support it, the lower back is under strain any time you are bearing weight, which is any time you aren’t lying down.  Any time you are doing any heavy lifting or carrying heavy objects for an extended period of time, use common sense.  Know the limits of your body and when you feel pain, stop.  Working through the pain is not a smart way to handle a lower back that is sending you signals.  After a period of activity, ice it down and rest.

The hard part about taking care of the discs of your lower back is to remember all of this sage advice.  I will put myself to the test this very weekend.  Treat your body well.