What is a Herniated Disc, and How Can Chiropractic Help?

 

A protusion or extrusion of the spinal disc is called a “herniation“. This is a more significant injury, resulting from a complete or significant tear of the fibers of an annulus-when some of the nucleus leaks through. A herniation can also be painful and may even cause nerve compression. In the most severe cases, the spinal cord can become compressed.

Common signs of disc problems include, but are not limited to:

Back or neck pain
• Leg or arm pain
• Stiffness
• Tenderness of the spine and spinal muscles

Luckily, in most circumstances, disc problems are easily treated with conservative interventions. Early in the course of an acute injury, your doctor of chiropractic will likely set a goal of pain control, using several different physical modalities to reach it. Both ice and heat have shown effectiveness in managing the pain of acute low-back injury. Your chiropractor will help you determine which is most effective for you. In addition, getting you back on your feet and moving as quickly as is safely possible is critical. Typically, the less time you spend in bed, the better off you are in terms of long-term results. You’ll also need to learn not to be afraid to move. If you “baby” your back, in most cases, the long-term results will be worse. Physical therapy, exercise, and gentle stretching can help relieve the pressure on the nerve root. Chiropractic spinal manipulation has also been demonstrated to be a safe and effective tool in the management of disc problems. Manipulation is especially effective when combined with therapeutic exercise. In most circumstances, spine surgery and injections are not necessary in the management of disc problems- and they often cause more problems than they’re worth. Your doctor of chiropractic will discuss all available treatment options with you and help you decide on the best course of action.

In order to prevent spinal herniations, research has demonstrated that staying fit and using proper body mechanics alone will not prevent injury.  The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) recommends that individuals do not lift more than 50 lbs. Lift objects with proper posture, including bending your knees, keeping the object close to your body, keeping your back straight and lifting with your legs. Furthermore, activities that require awkward or prolonged postures and repetitive stresses, place individuals at higher risk for musculoskeletal disorders and disc problems regardless of body mechanics and fitness level. Your doctor of chiropractic can conduct an ergonomic assessment of your work and home activities to help you prevent injury. Give us a call at (408) 248-8700.

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