Your discs act as shock absorbers for the bending of your spine, aiding spinal muscles to protect your spine from stresses of everyday tasks and heavy lifting. When a disc herniates, a portion of the nucleus pushes out through a tear into the spinal canal. This often causes irritation of spinal nerves which result in the pain of a herniated disc.
As you age, spinal discs lose some moisture content accelerating wear and tear, called degeneration of the discs. Your discs become less flexible and tear or rupture more easily even when you twist or strain just a little. Tiny tears or cracks in the firm outer layer of the disc allows the cushioning gel to poke out through the break. The disc bulges, breaks open, or breaks in pieces. Improper lifting can lead to a herniated disc, as can lifting and twisting. An injury is less likely to cause a herniation, but it does happen.
Herniated discs can be extremely painful, but aren’t normally a medical emergency. Immediate treatment can prevent permanent damage to the spinal cord, and total, pain free function is usually recovered. Conservative treatment is to limit your activity, apply cold, and do careful exercises to build back your flexibility and strength. Specific core-strengthening exercises condition your trunk muscles which helps to stabilize your spine. Other self-care activities may also be recommended.
To help prevent a herniated disc, exercise regularly which slows age-related degeneration and strengthens core-muscles. Make sure you emphasize good posture when walking, standing, or sitting. It reduces pressure on your spine and discs and keeps your abdominal core muscles strong. Keep your back straight and aligned especially when sitting. If you must lift heavy objects, do it properly, using your legs and thigh muscles, not your back. Try very hard to maintain a healthy weight putting less pressure on your spine and discs. If you smoke, stop. It increases your risk for disc problems.Herniated Disc Treatments
Without a proper diagnosis, it would impossible for me to recommend a therapy and course of treatment for your herniated disc. As you can see, many of my patients came to me for many different reasons. I started the Holistic Chiropractic Center based on providing you with highly personalized care and treatment, for the entire duration of your therapy. I specialize in the following treatments for herniated discs, which may be individual, or used in combination to provide solutions for your pain:
- Flexion Distraction which is a process that carefully realigns and adjusts the spine over a period of time.
- Muscle Testing which is a holistic approach to the physical diagnosis of the strengths and weakness of the muscles in the area related to low back pain.
- Applied Kinesiology which in relation to muscle testing, is treatment that targets improved movement of the affected area.
- Nutrition Response Testing may be used to help heal the body from within. It is a healing and preventative treatment that contributes to improving overall wellness by properly fueling the organs in your body.
A Patient Case Study for Herniated Disc Treatment
Robert was a 45-year-old stay at home dad, who was very active with his children. He came into my office, after his wife pleaded with him to come see me because of increasing and excruciating neck pain, left shoulder pain, and left arm pain.
An MRI revealed that he had a C5/C6 herniated disc. He was very frustrated that he could no longer pick up his kids and be there for them in the same way. Robert could not lay down on the chiropractic table without experiencing shooting pains down his left arm.
Robert was adjusted using a prone adjustment technique, which allows the herniated disc to heal and takes pressure off of the nerve.
A flexion distraction technique was also used to help to decompress the nerve root. The primary focus of treating Robert's herniated disc was to increase mobility in the vertebral segment, so that function was restored to the herniated disc and vertebrae.
Robert was muscle tested to determine what natural nutritional supplements could also aid in his recovery. A supplement called Disc-flex by pure encapsulations (helps the healing of the disc) tested well for him.
Robert also tested for Nervagesic by Mediherb and Standard process (helps with nerve pain). Robert reported improvement after his second visit and had continued improvement over a six-week period.
During his sixth week of care, Robert had no choice but to shovel snow in his driveway. This is the probably the worst thing that someone could do with an active herniated disc, but his body handled it just fine. If he asked me if it was OK to shovel, I would have said no!!
The fact that he shoveled without aggravating and increasing his pain, was a great testament that his body was much better and healing well. By Robert’s seventh week of care, his visits were reduced, and he was placed on a maintenance care regimen.
Robert continues to be pain free and is back to being the best dad for his kids.