Herniated Discs and Chiropractic Care
The discs in between the vertebrae in the spine play a very important role. In addition to acting as a cushion, they create an opening that allows the nerves to exit the spine and go throughout the body. This hole is called the intervertebral foreman. The disc themselves are cartilage formed from a fibrous material in the outer part of the disc surrounding a gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. Without these discs, it would be extremely hard to bend and twist your spine, and there would be constant irritation and pressure on the nerves exiting the spine.
Disc conditions and problems are something almost 50% of the patients we treat daily deal with. Chiropractic care successfully treats herniated discs and is something we help our patients with regularly.
There are several different phrases commonly used when referring to spinal disc problems. Here is a list.
- Herniated disc
- Bulging disc
- Protruded disc
- Extruded disc
- Sequestered disc
- Ruptured disc (Not a clinical term. Layman's term.)
- Slipped disc (Not a clinical term. Layman's term.)
Symptoms of Disc Problems
Spinal disc symptoms typically start showing up as numbness, tingling, aching and burning sensations radiating down arms or legs depending on where the problem originates in the spine. Disc problems are most common in the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back).
If you are experiencing neck pain due to pressure on the brachial plexus (series of nerves exiting the spine at the neck) you may also experience headaches, problems sleeping, and a weakened immune system.
Disc pains in the lower back can affect the nerves that form the lumbosacral plexus. You may experience sciatic pain (sciatica), have digestive and reproductive issues, colitis, swollen ankles, and poor circulation among other problems.
Causes of Disk Problems
Disc problems can occur from traumatic injuries or develop over time. Injuries from auto accidents, lifting, falls, contact sports, and other accidents often bring immediate pain. Other times the pain only shows up after repeated stress and wear from these accidents.
Accidents are not the only cause of disc problems. Our spine was designed to move regularly and in a certain way. This movement is necessary to make sure our spine gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. Inactivity and poor posture — common at jobs where we sit for hours at a time — leads to disc degeneration. Over time, the inflammation caused by bad diets can also cause disc problems.
One of the most common problems affecting disc problems is a misalignment of the spine (called a subluxation). When the spine is out of alignment, the vertebrae in the spine cannot move correctly. If this is not corrected, it will lead to degeneration in the spinal vertebrae.
Chiropractic Care for Treating Herniated Discs
The first thing we will do is conduct a complete and thorough examination to learn the extent of any disc problem, and where the problem is located. This may include chiropractic, orthopedic, and physical exams. When necessary, we will also get x-rays or MRIs. An MRI is the best way to see a herniated disc since we can see the disc and the water content of the disc, detect herniation or bulging out, and whether or not the disc is occluding (obstructing) the hole where the nerves exit the spine.
Not only will these exams help us locate your disc problem(s), but they will also help us determine if there are any other contributing factors such as subluxations, arthritis, or disc degenerations. After review of these exams, we will plan a course of treatment for your disc problem. The treatment may include any, or all, of the following: Chiropractic Adjustments, Traction, Rehabilitative Exercises, Soft Tissue Work, Cold Laser Therapy.
Chiropractic treatment involves gentle adjustments, which are a very effective way of correcting misalignments of the spine and putting the vertebrae into a good position to move correctly. This also increases the range of motion and flexibility of the joints. As we adjust the spine and get it into a better position, we are shifting the disc material away from the nerve, taking the pressure off the nerve, and mitigating the symptom. This helps to get the disc healthier and stops, or prevents, the degeneration from progressing, as well as taking the pressure off the nerves. We also get people to start doing rehabilitative exercises. Left untreated, disc problems will continue to get progressively worse. Chiropractic care often helps to prevent people from going to surgery.
Contact World Class Chiropractic at 410.461.3435 and arrange for a consultation with Dr. Silverston. A herniated disc is something we often help our patients heal from successfully. If you or someone you know is suffering from disc problems and pain, please recommend this article.