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  • Writer's pictureTanvi Desai

How can a chiropractor help with herniated discs?

Back pain–in one form or the other is an extremely common condition in America. And bulging or herniated discs have been a common factor behind this. People with herniated discs often experience severe pain and muscle weakness–making it difficult for them to get by the day’s activities.

Looking to get a better understanding? A little overview may help. What is a herniated disc and how does it occur? What are some symptoms to look out for? And more importantly–how has chiropractic been a solution to this problem? Have a read below-

Herniated discs- The basic idea

Primarily, the spine is made of multiple vertebrae (bones) stacked on top of each other. And between each of these vertebrae, sits a rubbery “cushion” that we call a spinal disc. Each of these discs has a jellylike center (nucleus), encased by a tougher exterior (annulus). And a herniated disc occurs when there is damage or tear in the annulus–causing the inner nucleus to “push out”.

This escape of the disc’s nucleus often irritates the nerves in the area–causing pain and inflammation. This mostly occurs in the lower back, but may also happen in the middle or upper spinal column in some cases.

Depending on the location of the herniated discs, patients may notice one or some of these symptoms-

  • Sharp pain: A “radiating” pain is a common sign of herniated discs. If the herniation is in the lower back, the pain may affect the buttocks or further down the leg. A herniated disc in the neck is more likely to cause shoulder or arm pain. And if the problem is in the middle back, patients may experience pain in the frontside–around the rib cage.

  • Tingling/numbness: A herniated disc may press onto the spinal cord or spinal nerves. And this often causes a radiating numbness in the area served by the affected nerves.

  • Muscle weakness: Muscles connected to the affected nerves often tend to weaken–making it difficult for the person to perform even basic activities. For instance, patients with herniated discs may have trouble holding or lifting heavy objects.

Some patients may experience more aggravated symptoms, while some may face no symptoms at all! This largely depends on the position, nature, or size of the herniation. If the disc herniation is minor–and not pressing on a nerve, one may not have many symptoms.

What causes it?

The spine undergoes gradual wear and tear as we age–and the disc material may naturally degenerate. This is often a big factor in disc herniation, since even a “minor” strain or injury in this stage can cause the discs to rupture. Although the pain may seem sudden in such cases, this is usually the result of gradual, built-up damage.

Apart from this, a single injury or accident can also cause a herniated disc. Any activity that puts too much pressure on the disc–is risky. A hard fall, the sudden “jerk” from a car accident, or incorrect lifting techniques–can all cause disc herniation.

And in some cases, individuals may be predisposed to herniated discs. Disc herniation is known to have a hereditary tendency at times–causing individuals to be more vulnerable to disc problems. But this is rarely the sole factor behind herniated discs. Whether or not one is more vulnerable to disc injuries–a lack of activity or poor lifestyle is sure to aggravate one’s symptoms.

Chiropractic for herniated discs

Chiropractic therapy has been a really effective solution to disc herniation. Spine health is at the center of our treatment–and the right methods have helped address back pain and other disc problems.

The first step of treatment will include a proper diagnosis of your condition. In my office, I will analyze your spinal alignment, reflexes, and muscle strength–and check for any loss of sensations. Also, X-rays and other forms of imaging will be used to evaluate the entire spine. These tests will help determine the nature of the herniation or disc injury–if any. To treat herniated discs, a combination of gentle adjustments and therapeutic exercises has been key.

In my office, the flexion-distraction technique is a common method used to heal herniated discs and other spine problems. This will be performed on a specialized table that moves rhythmically as I slowly adjust the spine. These adjustments combined with the movements of the table–gently stretch the spine–helping the nucleus of the disc to retract to its central position.

Depending on your condition, I will also suggest some “at-home” steps you could take to make things better. Some basic exercises and stretches to keep the body active–are often key in improving spine health. My aim here will be to enable holistic wellness and help you achieve a healthier lifestyle–overall.

Experiencing back pain? Please do not resort to living with it. It is always advisable to get yourself diagnosed and rule out any underlying health concerns. At Lotus Chiropractic Care, Dr. Tanvi Desai will assess your condition and create a personalized treatment plan for your needs.

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