Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Slipped Disc: Misleading Terminology

Regarding this site: Better Health Channel:

On this page I found the following sentence:

Slipped disc - when cartilage in the spinal column shifts out of position.

This description is quite misleading (which is acknowledged below), as the discs and vertebral bodies are firmly attached (grown together) to each other. When viewed as a whole, the spine should be viewed as one long flexible piece, not as a series of independent parts that are simply stacked on top of each other.

The exception is the top two vertebrae, which have no disc between them, are very movable, and where the risk of injury is much greater, whether it be from an accident or a deliberate spinal manipulation.

This misleading description plays into the hands of chiropractors, who have - for 110 years - deceived people into thinking that they could "push it back into place", when that wasn't what was happening at all. In fact, the so-called "chiropractic subluxation" (not the same as real orthopedic ones) has never been proven to exist. It just happens to be the foundation for the whole profession and the only legitimate (not) excuse for its existence!

on this page the description is more correct:

Disc problems
The invertebral discs are spongy cushions found between the vertebrae. As we age, these discs dry out and harden, making them prone to injury. The term 'slipped disc' is misleading. The disc doesn't actually move out of place, but cracks its tough outer shell, which allows the softer insides to ooze out. This is called a disc bulge or prolapse.

For more information about the spine, try Spine University.