Neck and back pain is nothing to be taken lightly.
But can a chiropractor fix a herniated disc?
They’re a common car accident injury, but if you’ve been diagnosed with a herniated or bulging disc, it doesn’t help to know you’re in good company. You only have one thing on your mind: How do you get the pain to stop?
And if you’ve ever experienced the relief of a spinal adjustment, you might even have asked yourself, “Can a chiropractor fix a herniated disc?”
Chiropractors are experts in the spine and other joints, so it’s only natural that they would understand how to treat a disc protrusion or herniated disc. In this article, we’ll go over what exactly a herniated disc is, what causes them, common symptoms, and how chiropractic care can help.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
Slipped disc. Bulging disc. Disc protrusion. Disc prolapse. Herniated disc.
These terms are often used interchangeably, but none of them present an accurate description of what is happening inside your body.
Between each of the vertebrae in your spine, you have a disc made of a soft, spongy material (the nucleus pulposus) inside a membrane (the annulus fibrosus), much like a stress ball.
Normally, your intervertebral discs are designed to act as a shock absorber and allow your spine to bend, twist, and move without friction. But if there is enough force or pressure, the nucleus pulposus can push against the membrane, causing a disc protrusion (also known as a prolapse or bulging disc).
If there is enough pressure or force, the annulus fibrosus may rupture. This break in the membrane is a true “disc herniation.”
Symptoms of Disc Protrusion or Herniation
If a disc herniates or protrudes, it puts pressure on the nerves that run through your spinal column. This is what causes your pain and other symptoms.
The specific symptoms you experience will depend on the location of your disc protrusion, but some of the most common symptoms are weakness, pain, numbness, or tingling.
However, because your nerves branch throughout your body, these symptoms may not be felt in the spine at all. For example, a herniated disc in the neck may cause numbness and tingling in your arm or wrist (this is known as referred pain).
Thus, even though your spinal nerve is being compressed, it is sending signals through the nerve root to other nerves throughout the body.
What Causes a Disc Protrusion?
Disc protrusions are part of a degenerative condition and there are three primary ways they can occur: stress, injury, or a combination of the two.
As you age, your discs can naturally start to thin and break down. As gravity pulls on your spinal column, this can cause the disc to protrude or rupture. Overexertion, bad posture, or being overweight can speed this process up.
A 2021 study found an increase in disc protrusion among fairly young individuals (around 25 years of age). Out of 33 patients with disc protrusions, 61% were smokers, the average Body Mass Index was in the “overweight” category, and all had sedentary lifestyles.
Sudden, extreme force (such as a car accident) can also cause—or exacerbate—a disc protrusion. If you have been in a recent accident, you may be able to pinpoint the cause of your herniated disc, but many people are unaware of the exact moment the damage occurred.
Chiropractic Treatment Can Help
Regardless of how your disc was injured, you likely only have one concern: feeling better. But who do you see? Your general practitioner? A back specialist? Osteopath?
There is a common belief that chiropractors will make your disc protrusion worse. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Common treatments for disc injuries involve bed rest, pain relievers, steroid injections, intense physical therapy, and surgery. Spinal manipulation, on the other hand, is a non-surgical, drug-free treatment option to address your pain at the source.
At your first visit to Oviedo Chiropractic, you will receive an X-ray to help our doctors rule out other conditions. You will then receive a treatment plan that will likely include manual adjustments and flexion-distraction.
Flexion-distraction is a technique that uses a special table to gently stretch your discs to relieve the pressure caused by your vertebrae. This allows your discs to draw in more water and help them to “plump up.” Your chiropractor will likely advise you to drink plenty of water after your appointment to assist with the process.
Depending on your condition, you may receive some medical massage therapy as well.
Chiropractic care will not reverse the herniation (only surgery can do that), but it can eliminate your painful symptoms so that surgery, drugs, and other treatment options become unnecessary.
Whether you have a disc protrusion or a herniated disc, your first visit should be to a chiropractor.
Chiropractors specialize in non-invasive, drug-free treatment that focuses on the root of your pain and discomfort rather than simply masking the symptoms. Through a combination of spinal adjustments, flexion-distraction, and massage therapy, you can experience pain relief, not just at the source of the disc protrusion, but throughout your entire body.
Chiropractic care is holistic in nature, meaning it treats the body as a whole unit rather than a collection of systems. Visiting a chiropractor provides you with the opportunity to address pain that may have been bothering you for years.
Schedule an appointment with one of our friendly, knowledgeable doctors and come feel the difference for yourself!