Dealing with Back Pain? A Herniated Disc Could be the Cause
Nagging pain in your back could be a sign that you have a herniated disc. Although back pain often improves after a few days of rest, herniated discs cause symptoms that may last weeks or months. Herniated discs can happen at any age, but are more common in older people.
How a Herniated Disc Causes Back Pain
Your spine is made up of a series of small bones called vertebrae. Rubbery discs between each vertebra help you move and bend easily and absorb shock when you jump, run, play sports, or do yardwork. These spinal discs are composed of a soft inner core covered by a tough outer coating.
Herniated discs occur when the outer coating of a spinal disc tears. When a disc is herniated, moving causes the soft inner core to ooze through the protective coating and presses on nerves in your spine. This pressure can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on where the herniated disc is located. According to Medline Plus, herniated discs most often occur in the lower back or neck.
If your herniated disc is in your neck, you might notice pain in your neck or shoulder that travels to your arm and hand. A bulging disc in your back could trigger pain in your back, legs, buttocks, and feet. Tingling, numbness, and weakness can also occur. The pain usually affects just one side of your body and may feel worse at night or after you wake up in the morning.
What Causes Herniated Discs?
Herniated discs may be caused by:
- Activities That Involve Frequent Bending or Twisting
- Lifting Heavy Boxes or Items
- Falls or Injuries
- Poor Posture
- Being Overweight
Age can also be a factor in developing the condition. Years of wear and tear takes a toll on discs and makes them more likely to herniate. Younger people who spend a lot of their time playing video games or using digital devices are also at increased risk of developing herniated discs.
Treating Herniated Disc Pain with Chiropractic
Chiropractic treatment eases the pain of a herniated disc and could help you avoid surgery. In a study published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapies, researchers reported that spinal manipulation treatment improved symptoms in 90.5% of patients after 3 months and in 88% of patients at one year.
Chiropractors use several treatments designed to:
- Ease Pain
- Relieve Pressure on the Nerves
- Move the Bulging Part of the Disc Away from the Nerves
Depending on the location of your herniated disc and your symptoms, your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatments:
- Spinal Manipulation. Quick thrusts from your chiropractor's hands or a device called an activator realign vertebrae during spinal manipulation treatment. The treatment helps relieve disc pressure on the nerves and reduce painful inflammation.
- Flexion-Distraction. Also called spinal decompression, flexion-distraction moves the bulging area of the disc away from the nerves while gently stretching the spine and improve your range of motion. During the treatment, you'll lie on a special table that moves as your chiropractor works on your spine.
- Massage. Spasms and muscle tension may make your pain worse when you have a herniated disc. Massage loosens tight muscles and tissues, stops spasms, increases circulation, and decreases inflammation.
- Pelvic Blocking. During pelvic blocking, soft foam blocks placed under your body at strategic points ease pressure and pain.
- Cold Laser Therapy. The energy produced from laser light stimulates healing, may decrease the size of the herniation, and eases pain, inflammation and numbness.
Do you think you have a herniated disc? We can help relieve your pain with chiropractic treatments. Give us a call when you're ready to schedule your appointment.
Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics: Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients with Magnetic Resonance Imaging-Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High Velocity, Low-Amplitude, Spinal Manipulative Therapy: a Prospective Observational Cohort Study with One-Year Follow-Up, March/April 2014