How Chiropractic Care Can Help With A Herniated Disc
Updated: Oct 11
Discs are made up of a gel-like nucleus surrounded by a strong matrix of many layers of interwoven fibers. They act like a soft protective cushion between the bodies of the vertebrae and allow them to have some movement. When discs get repetitive uneven compressive pressure on them, or a mild to moderate impact to the spine, they can begin to bulge out the side.
A herniated disc, also called a ruptured disc happens when this is more severe and the result is where the nucleus is forced out and has worked its way through the outer layers of the disc. This can cause local pain, muscle weakness, a reduced ability to bend or straighten your back, and if it presses on your nerves it will cause shooting pain and/or numbness and tingling.
A herniated disc can often get better slowly over time but a chiropractor can help to relieve your symptoms quick and facilitate a faster recovery as well as evaluate to see if any other imbalances are contributing to the problem. You may hear of a slipped disc, however this is not an accurate term to use as disc do not slide at all.
What causes a herniated disc?
Sometimes, you may have no idea how your herniated disc started. The pain and stiffening may begin slowly with no clear starting point. On the other hand, you may have a very clear idea of the injury that caused the disc to herniate.
Common causes of a herniated disc include:
• aging is actually not a cause
• your history of stressors are
• exercise that is too intense
• lifting heavy objects in the wrong way
• vibration from operating or driving heavy machinery
• being inactive and/or overweight
It may also be unclear at first whether or not you have a herniated disc or if there is some other problem that is causing your back pain. It is very common to have a herniated disc with no symptoms at all. A medical professional will be able to assess what the source of your pain is, but common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
• pain in the lower back or neck
• numbness and tingling in the back, shoulders, arms, legs, hands, or feet
• problems with bending or straightening the back
• weakness in muscles
How chiropractic care can help with a herniated disc
A chiropractor can help to diagnose a herniated disc. They will look at your symptoms, physically examine you, observe your posture and movement, and may order tests such as X-rays or MRI scans. Once they have established that your symptoms are the result of a herniated disc, they will develop a treatment plan based around your needs and the location/severity of the herniated disc.
Chiropractors are experts in spinal health and are in a good position to help your spine, back, and neck return to normal functioning. The exact treatments that you will receive will vary based on the diagnostic procedure, but can include:
• spinal manipulation/adjustments
• manual therapy
• therapeutic exercises
• flexion-distraction technique
• advice about home exercises to improve range of motion and stability
• spinal traction
• activator method
A chiropractor can help to increase patients' number of pain-free days and can also help to speed up recovery from a herniated disc. These two factors are key in reducing the amount of disability that results from a herniated disc, as well as improving quality of life. In one study 60% of patients who were initially candidates for surgery were able to avoid the need for such invasive treatments with the help of a chiropractor instead.
While many people are concerned about the possibility of chiropractic treatments themselves causing herniated disc, there is very little evidence for this, and it is generally considered a safe treatment for this condition.
A chiropractor can help to treat many cases of a herniated disc through the use of a variety of methods, including spinal adjustments, manual therapy, traction, and exercises. In some cases, chiropractic care can help avoid the need for surgery, and it can reduce the pain associated with the condition as well as reduce the recovery time.