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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

MYTH: Discs don't have nerves


MYTH: Discs don't have nerve supply, therefore they can not experience pain (nociceptive input).


As a chiropractic doctor, I work a lot with the musculoskeletal system and how it connects to and is controlled and influenced by the nervous system. In all of anatomy, I could never pick just one part of the nervous system that is my favorite, but the Recurrent Meningeal Nerve comes pretty darn close. This is because of the mythology of the nervous system for decades in injury care that the intervertebral disc was not innervated or supplied nerve impulse. We were often taught in school that ligaments don't have nerve supply and as such are simply connective tissues, like lifeless rubberbands that hold you in place and prevent you from being like "Gumby". NOTHING could be further from the truth!!!!


RECURRENT MENINGEAL NERVE: A branch of the spinal nerve that passes in a recurrent fashion back through the vertebral foramen, innervates or supplies many areas, one being the outer 1/3 of the annular fibers of the disc. These nerve fibers are sensory and carry pain signals to the brain when the tissue is damaged. The herniated disc (as discussed in Trauma Series #2 and #6) can only be caused by trauma, and in many cases, the client is in pain without the disc compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerve root. Where is the pain coming from? The answer is disco-genic pain. The disc itself has pain fibers, the recurrent meningeal nerve, and if the disc is torn (herniated), then the disc itself is the competent producing cause of the pain. This answers many questions regarding the disc not compressing the spinal cord or spinal nerves, and the cause of the patient’s pain.




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