The roles of the discs in your spine
Updated: Sep 17
Each vertebra in our spine sits centrally on top of its very own disc (besides one vertebra, but let’s keep things simple). The disc is a cushion and it allows for the great freedom of movement that our spines have. It also keeps space between the vertebrae for the nerves to come out. These 2 functions are fairly well known and easy to understand, but there is one other vital role of the disc that most are not as familiar with - the discs are the weight-bearing structures of your spine.
Picture your disc being like a half-inflated balloon. The vertebrae sit in the middle these balloons, putting even pressure and spreading the air equally in all directions. When we bend, move and twist, the vertebra rocks back and forth on top of the balloon whilst remaining in the centre of it.
When a bone subluxates and moves out of its ideal position (either from a big trauma or repetitive little ones), the big concern is that it is no longer sitting in the middle of the balloon and therefore placing asymmetrical pressure onto it. When this happens violently to a large degree, you could imagine the balloon to burst as the air is compressed against its side. More often than not, however, it is only a slight movement of the bone which causes minor asymmetrical loading to the balloon - and only a slight bulging of the side that has more air in it. This constant uneven pressure also affects the amount of air in the balloon and over time it starts to deflate.
To correct this problem, it is vital the Chiropractor set the bone as specifically as possible back up onto the balloon. This can not be achieved by rotating and twisting the bone, as this will only pivot the segments around their same axis. This is why Dr Gonstead founded the system that we use, and why each Gonstead Chiropractic adjustment delivered is specific to the person receiving it. No rotation is used in our corrections and the angle of the disc is measured and visualised on X-ray where appropriate.
The goal is to make sure your vertebrae are moving optimally on top of their discs (balloons) and sitting in the best position to withstand the load of gravity. The reason why this is the goal...? Because it allows for the least pressure and impedance on our spinal cord and spinal nerves, which of course allows for our best chance at HEALth.