When talking about pain in the lower back and neck there is always a root cause. One of those root causes can be due to a herniated disc, also known as a bulging disc, slipped disc and ruptured disc.
There are many reasons why chiropractic may be the best solution for a herniated disc. But first, we must explain what that is and how it can occur.
What Causes A Herniated Disc In Neck or Lower Back?
The disc is what sits between every vertebrae in the spine between C2 to L5. It is made up of collagen fibers and acts as a cushion between the bones. When the body moves in an unexpected or aberrant motion, such as flexing or extending with rotational movements the disc can be injured.
For example, when lifting a heavy object off the ground and turning to place it on a table or bench. This movement creates a shearing force on the disc which depending on the weight of the object, a person's age or their history of injuries can make them more prone to herniation.
Symptoms of Herniated Disc
There are some common symptoms seen with a disc herniation whether in the neck or the low back.
Some of these include, loss of range of motion, some people may find it harder to turn their head or bend down to put on their socks and shoes without increases pain and discomfort.
Other symptoms may include pain with radiating symptoms, such as numbness or tingling, either down the arms or legs. However, studies have shown that about 60% of people over the age of 20 to have a bulge of the disc or worse without any symptoms.
How Does Chiropractic Help?
There are many ways that Chiropractic can treat patients with herniated discs. First and foremost, the most important thing is to restore normal alignment and function to the spine. This allows the disc to function normally. There are multiple different ways to achieve this depending on the person and the state that they arrive in.
A specific Chiropractic adjustment to the vertebra that is out of its normal position is key. When one part of the spine moves out of place it puts an extreme amount of pressure on the nerves that exit the spinal cord. This causes the muscles around the area to guard and other parts of the spine to move too much and increase the strain placed on the disc.
Different Types of Chiropractic Techniques
Paired with the adjustment there are other techniques that have proven useful to help treat herniated disc patients.
Flexion distraction is a great technique for the low back that allows the doctor to not only stretch the muscles along the spine but also open up the joint spaces and relieve pressure off the discs and joints of the low back. “Subjects categorized as chronic, with moderate to severe symptoms, and those with radiculopathy improved most with Flexion-Distraction.”
For people who have herniated discs in the neck there are also other treatments to go along with the adjustment as well, like the McKenzie extension exercises. The purpose behind these exercises is to create extension of the spine so the disc will move forward and away from the spinal cord and spinal nerves relieving the pressure and decreasing the pain experienced by the patient.
According to Austin Chiropractor Dr. Wendee Whitehead D.C. “I use a combination of techniques to give patients fast, effective and gentle relief. Orthospinology is one of the most powerful tools I have for relief of severe injuries. I have had patients scheduled for surgery with severe neck and arm pain and within 4 visits they are pain free. It’s exciting and a privilege to help patients get back their life. I frequently use Gonstead technique combined with McKenzie for low back pain, and I expect patients to have 40-60 percent relief in the first week to two weeks of treatment.”
Safe Exercises To Do with a Herniated Disc or Bulging Disc
Along with these treatment options it is always important to stretch the tight muscles and strengthen the weak muscles to prevent relapses of pain. Some of the stretches and exercise that can be done to help relieve pain include early gentle mobilization exercises including; pelvic tilts diaphragmatic breathing, cat/cow and McKenzie exercises.
These are good exercises to pump the disc to help remove some inflammation, restore movement to the injured area and speed healing.
Dr. Wendee Whitehead combines her knowledge of Gonstead, Upper Cervical Orthospinology and her Advanced training in Rehabilitation to help her patients get fast, gentle and effective results.