After learning about what herniated discs are and how they develop, this entry will explain how chiropractic treatment can help heal and alleviate pain.
Ron Grassi, Doctor of Chiropractic, briefly explains in his article “Chiropractic Care and Back Pain: Non-invasive Treatment for Bulging, Ruptured, or herniated Discs (Slipped Discs)” different treatment options. Dr. Grassi suggests that these options may include spinal manipulation (adjustments), manual therapy and therapeutic exercises depending on that you need. A chiropractor will be taking your level of activity and overall health in mind before creating a plan.
It is also important to note that when a chiropractor is creating a treatment plan for you that you understand what goes into your treatment and why. Chiropractors will be more than happy to explain how your plan works and why they chose it.
Dr. Grassi leaves us with examples of what techniques chiropractors may use for your herniated disc: flexion-distraction technique, Manipulations Under Anesthesia (MUA), and pelvis blocking technique.
The flexion-distraction uses “a specialized table that gently ‘distracts’ or stretches the spine. This allows the chiropractor to isolate the affected area while slightly ‘flexing’ the spine using a pumping rhythm… This technique can help move the disc away from the nerve, reducing inflammation of the nerve root, and eventually any associated pain and inflammation into the leg (if there is any related to your herniated disc).” Along with this technique, a chiropractor will usually add a combination of techniques including “adjunctive ultrasound, muscle stimulation, physiotherapy, supplementation, and at-home treatments.”
Manipulation Under Anesthesia (MUA) is an option where the chiropractor adjusts a patient under light anesthesia. This is performed at ambulatory care centers of hospitals. Dr. Grassi informs us that this light anesthesia is called “twilight sleep;” meaning the duration of sleep and sedation is short, about 6 minutes. While the patient is sedated, the chiropractor stretches and manipulates the treatment area while your body is in a relaxed state.” This is not done often as it’s 1 to 3 sessions that are 2 to 4 weeks apart.
Pelvic Blocking is relatively straight forward. The chiropractor will have their patient lie on foam blocks to help relieve pressure in places. Gentle exercises will also be implemented as it “allow[s] changes in mechanics to draw your disc away from the nerve it may be pressing on.”
And included in most chiropractic treatments, the doctor may make exercise and nutritional recommendations to help improve quality of life as well.
These are just examples of what a chiropractor may offer you as treatment depending on their practice. There are situations where some are not suited to be seen by a chiropractor (we’ll discuss this one another time). There are also other considerations that a chiropractor will weigh in on during your first exam regarding how treatment will go and whether or not you will be recommended a spine specialist or a hospital. However all options here are safer alternatives (against surgery and opioids) for patients approved by a chiropractor.