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Discs Touching?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,671
edited 06/11/2012 - 8:37 AM in Lower Back Pain
Im new here and didnt find exactly what i was looking for via the search.

My gf has been complaining of back pain for about 6 months or so now. Until 2 weeks ago she took it upon herself to take pills that were not perscribed to her but they did the trick of relieving the pain. ive gotten her off them and started with chiropractic visits. Today they did X-Rays and said the space between discs 4 and 5 I believe was reducing and the discs would occasionally touch casuing the pain.

I know they know their jobs but Im very skeptical as to their business ethics and if they just want her coming in to collect their "adjustment" fees. He could not tell me the medical name for the condition which brough me here.

Anyone have any insight to this? Thanks in advance


  • Go to an Orthopedic doctor or a Neuro doc and have them look at her. It is the safest thing to do. Chiropractors are great but until she knows what she's dealing with they could be making her worse.
  • I suggest taking her to a real doctor. Does she have a primary? The primary should order the MRI and maybe better xrays (flex/extension). Loss of disc space can mean a few different things- The mri will give you a much better picture, the flex xrays will tell you if there is unusual movement to help diagnose.

    I won't tell you how much money the DC have stolen from me and what damages I think they are responible for. I will never see another one nor will any one in my family.

    Good luck,


  • No current primary as she is self employeed without insurance and has recently moved. Would a general practice doctor do the MRI & Flax Ray or do I need to contact a specialist?

    Thank you again
  • will be a good place to start. They may refer her to someone else but he could at least order the MRI and Xrays. I have a collapsed disc and am bone on bone at L3/L4 but I have no idea if this is what the chiro was suggesting. I started at a chiro and he did help at first but after awhile he made my pain much worse. If the chiro that she is seeing is not familiar with medical terminology that would make me very nervous. If it does turn out to be anything serious and she needs extended care you may want to check with your state to see if they offer any type of medical care program. I have heard of this from others on this site. Good luck and keep us posted.
  • The problem with going to a general practioner that she has no relationship with is that the doctor may be reluctant to even order a MRI. Because back pain is so prevalent in the U.S., GPs will often just do the standard basic neurological office tests and then tell her to get a course of PT. Often they will not order a MRI right away because they are expensive and may not be deemed necessary. They will request PT for a month or so and tell her to come back in six weeks if she still has pain.

    She should ask for the X-rays that were taken at the chiropractor's office and take them with her to the new doctor. This may save a little money for her. If the doctor feels flexion X-rays are necessary at this point, he can always order them.

    I too would stay away from a chiropractor until you have a proper diagnosis. This profession does have its place, but until you know the source of the pain, you really can end up with treatment that causes more harm than good.
  • You might want to take some time and read through some of the spinal specialist written articles on the Spine Health website. There is a good article on spinal anatomy that will familiarize you with the terms you may hear at the doctor's office. Also here is a link to some basic information on discs:


  • The sooner your GF gets in with a back specialist, the better she will be off because only then can she be diagnosed and receive the proper treatment. I know how horrible back pain is and I'm glad she's not using anyone else's Rx anymore because it's dangerous. If the pain gets really bad then she should go to the ER to get it stabilized and I'm sure they'll give her a script for a few painkillers. They can help with referrals to see a specialist too.

    Please keep her away from chiropractors. They are not qualified to treat complex back conditions like herniated discs for example. A bad situation can easily be made worse by one manipulation. Does she has sciatic pain radiating down a leg? This is another reason to stay clear of chiropractors.

    If you delay seeking treatment if you have a herniated disc for example, you risk having permanent nerve damage. It happened to me because it took 3 months from when my problems started just to get an MRI and be diagnosed. Precious time was lost. 6 months later I had surgery for 2 herniated discs in order to relieve the pressure of the sciatic nerve.

    I had complications after that and ended up having a fusion. Then I learned that my nerve damage was permanent and irreversible and I use a cane all the time because of the weakness and nerve pain.

    This of course is a worst case scenario and I'm speaking from personal experience. I don't know what's wrong with your GF and I hope she gets diagnosed and treated appropriately. Take care
  • so after the MRI the doctor said that theres a buldge on L4 and some herniation on the discs? i didnt go in the back and she wasnt too sure how to explain it to me. The doctor said the only thing she can do are core exercises and take pain meds. Exentually she will need surgery, shes only 23
  • Here is some information that will familiarize you with some of the language pertaining to herniated discs:


    and here is information about treatment possibilities:


    If you look at a model or photo of the spine, you will see that the disc is located between two bony structures that are the vertebrae. Sometimes when a disc is completely deteriorated, it is possible for the vertebrae to touch, but discs usually do not touch. Discs are somewhat soft in nature (think of a jelly doughnut that gets punctured) and their contents can spill out and touch other parts of the spine like spinal nerves...but they do not touch other discs.

    A disc herniation can heal by itself but it does involve building up the muscles of the back and core and avoiding any movement that keeps the disc from healing up -- such as any activity that involves bending or twisting at the waist, pushing, pulling, reaching overhead or to the side, and any jerky movement like a vibrating plate, a roller coaster, riding a dirt bike, etc. Your GF will need to take it easy and be very kind to her back. It can take at least six months for the back to get better.

    Does she have any pain meds that were prescribed her?

    One thing I would caution you about: there are many programs that are sold on the internet that are exercises that are "guaranteed to heal a herniated disc". There is nothing unique about these programs and they cost quite a bit of money. You can get the same basic exercises from books at the library or materials on the internet for free...It would be helpful if she could go for physical therapy, but I'm guessing that would be tough if she doesn't have insurance.
  • I would not go to a chrio as he definitely made me worse and got me to use a cane. Till him while some pain he started the real bad pains that brought me almost to my knees.

    As for your GP I would not take her diagnosis at face value. You really need to take that MRI and see a specialist. The small cost now is worth saving her from a possible lifetime of pain especially since she is only 23. See a specialist like a spine ortho and he can give you a full plan.

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