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Herniated Disc

What are herniated disks/discs?

A model of a herniated disc.
If you suffer back pain that radiates through your lower back, you could have a slipped or herniated disc. A herniated disc, also commonly called herniated disk, can be a leading cause of lower back pain. You can experience a herniated disc from an auto injury or work injury.

You can also experience pain arising from a herniated disc because of gradual wear and tear of the spine. Your spinal disks can become weaker and drier with age, making you more susceptible to a herniated disk.

Although sometimes a slipped disc has no symptoms, you can suffer extreme pain and numbness if the herniated disk presses on any nerves.

What are the risk factors for herniated disks/discs?

Your spine is made of 24 bones stacked on top of each other, called the vertebrae that form the spinal column. The bones are cushioned by discs that have a soft jelly-like consistency.

The discs cushion the bones, protecting them by absorbing the stress from daily activities like walking, running, etc. The disc has two parts, a tough outer ring, and a soft gelatinous core.

As a result of any injury, the inner portion protrudes out of the outer ring, causing a slipped or herniated disc.

While a herniated disk can occur in any spine area, it is common in the lower back area. A slipped or herniated disc can cause pain, numbness, and discomfort in the place it occurs.

The factors that can increase your chance of suffering herniated discs are:

Age
Genetics
Weight
Certain physically demanding occupations
A sedentary lifestyle
Smoking

What are the symptoms of herniated disks/discs?

While you can have a slipped disk in any part of your spine, it is most common in the lower back area. The symptoms depend on where it occurs and whether it is pressing on a nerve.

If the herniated disk is not pressing on any nerve, it may not have any symptoms. But a herniating disk pressing on any nerve can cause severe pain and numbness along the affected nerve.

Herniated disc symptoms usually occur on one side of the body. The discomfort gets aggravated while you are active and lessens while resting.

Some common symptoms of a herniated disk are:

Pain and discomfort
A herniated disk can cause a sharp pain or a burning sensation that starts in the lower back and radiates towards the arms and legs. The pain worsens at night or after sitting or standing for an extended period. Often, movements while coughing and sneezing can worsen the pain and discomfort in the affected area.
Tingling sensation or numbness
When the herniated disc presses onto any nerve, you can experience numbness or a tingling sensation along the pressed nerve towards your arms or legs;
Muscle weakness
Herniated discs pressing on any nerve can cause weakness in the muscles connected to the nerve, increasing your risk of falling or stumbling while walking.

Herniated Lumbar Disc

(Slipped disc in the lower back)

A herniated disc in the lower back can cause sciatic nerve pain. It can cause a sharp pain in your lower back that moves down your buttocks on one side, spreading to your legs and foot.

With a herniated disc on your lower back, you can also experience a tingling sensation or numbness in your legs and general muscle weakness in the surrounding area.

Herniated Cervical Disc

(Slipped disc in your neck)

A slipped disc in your neck area can cause the following symptoms:
Pain in the back and side of your neck area
Pain between your shoulder blades
Pain that aggravates if you move or turn your neck
Neck pain that radiates to your arms and shoulders, spreading to your hands and fingers
Tingling or numbness in arms

Thoracic Region

(Slipped Disc in the middle back)

Where the herniated disk occurs in the middle back, the pain can travel around the ribcage towards the front of the body. It is the least common area for the occurrence of a herniated disk.

Long-term complications:

In rare cases, a herniated disk can compress your entire spinal cord leading to paralysis or permanent weakness. You might need emergency attention if you experience the following symptoms from a herniated disc.

A worsening of symptoms

Where the pain, numbness, and tingling sensations affect your everyday activities;

Loss of bladder or bowel control

A severely herniated disc, if left untreated, can cause permanent nerve damage. In rare instances, a slipped disk can cut your nerve impulses to the cauda equina nerves in the lower back and legs, causing you to lose control over your bladder or bowel functions.

Saddle anesthesia

In this case, a herniated disc can cause loss of sensation in the areas that touch a saddle, like the inner thighs, the area around the rectum, and the back of your legs.
A chiropractor uses a model of the human spine to explain herniated disc injuries and treatment.

What are the treatments of herniated disks/discs?

The treatments for a herniated disk can include medications, physical therapy, and surgery.

Medications

Your physician can prescribe over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medicines like Ibuprofen to relieve pain. In severe pain, opioids can be prescribed. Also, your doctor can prescribe muscle relaxants to relax painful areas and anticonvulsants to alleviate nerve pain.

Physical Therapy Using Chiropractic Techniques

Most individuals with herniated discs can be treated using noninvasive procedures. You can contact a chiropractor to heal your painful symptoms naturally. Your chiropractor shall, after assessing the damage caused by the herniated disk, perform the following methods:

Flexion-distraction technique:

Here, your chiropractor would stretch your spine by lightly applying force in the affected area using a gentle pumping rhythm.

Manipulation under anesthesia (MUA):

Here, the chiropractor uses a short period of sedation (about 6 mins) to stretch and manipulate the affected area to relieve the symptoms.

Pelvic blocking techniques:

Your chiropractor shall put cushioned wedges under both sides of your pelvis. That would naturally draw the herniated disk away from the affected nerve, allowing it to heal.

Other chiropractic treatment options

Your chiropractor can suggest other techniques to make the treatment more effective based on your condition. Some of the methods are as follows:
Laser therapy
Massage therapy
3D active traction                  
Ultrasound-guided injections                 

Surgery

Surgery is often considered in severe cases of herniated disks. Your chiropractor can refer you to a specialist, where surgery is required, to help you get the desired results.

Surgical treatment can include the following:

Disc replacement where herniated discs are replaced with artificial implants
Discectomy where all or part of the disc is removed
Laminectomy, where part of the vertebrae may be removed to make room for the nerves
Spinal fusion, where the surgeon can join two or more vertebrae together
Nucleotomy, where the disc's nucleus is removed via suction or laser excision

Herniated Disk/Disc Treatment at Accident Care Chiropractic

Herniated disks resulting from an auto injury or work injury, if left untreated, can have severe complications. We at Accident Care Chiropractic can offer you the best quality chiropractic services to help you deal with the painful symptoms and provide the best treatment most suitable for your condition.

Contact us at Accident Care Chiropractic to know more about our chiropractic treatment options for herniated disks/discs.

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