A herniated disc is a problem that arises within the rubbery cushions (commonly called discs) that are located between the vertebrae of the spine. The disc is a jelly-like structure covered by a harder outer layer. If it sustains a tear in the outer layer, then the soft jelly can push its way out of the vulnerable spot. When this condition occurs, it is sometimes called a ‘herniated’ or ‘ruptured’ disc. The herniated disc aggravates the nerve roots of the spine which causes pain, weakness, or numbness in the arm or leg. Most herniated discs occur in the lower spine, but they can also occur in the upper spine. Herniated disc treatment normally does not require spine surgery, but relief can come from proper chiropractic care and bed rest.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
The symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Tingling and Numbness: Numbness and tingling in the legs, arm, shoulder, or hands.
- Weakness: Extremity weakness that can make holding items difficult or impair mobility.
- Arm and Leg Pain: A herniated disc in the lower back usually causes pain in the calf, thigh, or buttocks. Some individuals also experience foot discomfort. A herniated region located in the upper back typically causes shoulder and arm pain. Often, the pain will travel into your arm and leg if you move into certain positions, sneeze, or start coughing.
What Causes Herniated Discs?
Most herniated discs are caused by aging. In such situations, the condition is referred to as disc degeneration. The interior jelly-like substance starts to lose water content making it less flexible and more prone to rupturing during physical activity. Typically, most individuals have no idea what caused their herniated disc. However, the condition can often be attributed to lifting a heavy object or twisting wrong. In some cases, a traumatic incident such as an auto accident or sports injury often leads to a herniated disc.
Risk Factors for a Herniated Disc
Certain factors can put you at an increased risk of suffering from a herniated disc. Here are just a few things that can increase your odds of suffering from a herniated disc:
- Weight: Excessive weight places a strain on the lower back.
- Occupation: Many people have careers that place a great deal of stress on their backs. Jobs that require repetitive lifting, bending, and twisting all increase the risk of developing a herniated disc.
- Genetics: There does appear to be a hereditary predisposition towards developing a herniated disc especially in age-related degeneration.
Herniated Disc Treatment
A chiropractor will first evaluate your entire spine and then work with you to create a treatment plan that typically includes manual adjustment.
The three most common chiropractic treatment options for a slipped disc include:
- Flexion-Distraction Technique: The flexion-distraction technique uses a particular table to distract and stretch the spine. The chiropractor can then focus on the afflicted area by flexing and pumping the spine. This method is usually a pain-free treatment that effectively flexes the spine back into its natural position to pull the disc away from the nerves and reduce inflammation.
- Manipulation Under Anesthesia or MUA: MUA involves the use of a sedative for about 6 minutes to create a ‘twilight’ sleep so that the chiropractor can effectively stretch and manipulate the spine without causing any discomfort.
- Pelvic Bocking Techniques: This treatment usually requires the use of a soft-cushioned wedge that is placed under a patient’s hips and then gentle exercises are employed to pull the disc way from the nerves.
A chiropractor can help relieve the discomfort of a herniated disc and place you on the road to recovery. If you are from a herniated disc or another form of back pain, contact Harlan Chiropractic to schedule an appointment today.