One of the most common questions a chiropractor hears is if it is appropriate for herniated discs to be treated with chiropractic care. And the answer is of course, yes!
But what exactly is a herniated disc?
Ron Grassi, Doctor of Chiropractic, writes in his article “Chiropractic Care and Back Pain: Non-invasive Treatment for Bulging, Ruptured, or Herniated Discs (Slipped Discs)” that “intervertebral discs don’t really “slip”– although the phrase “slipped disc” has come into popular usage to refer to bulging, ruptured, or herniated discs.”
Think of your discs are a jelly doughnut. There is a tougher outside and it’s filled with gelatin like insides. When a disc herniates, that exterior ruptures and the jelly insides come out. This can be a very painful process that makes up a herniated disc. And depending on your age, weight, poor posture and the wear and tear of your spine, it can be easy to herniate a disc. Sometimes even a sneeze or a cough is enough to break the outside.
Dr. Grassi also informs us that “the problem [of herniated discs] starts off small and then gradually builds until you start to feel symptoms, such as back pain.” Herniated discs go through stages: disc degeneration, prolapse, extrusion, and finally sequestration (there’s an illustrated example on spine universe’s site here).
So how do chiropractors care for a herniated disc?
One common misconception people have with herniated discs is that taking medicine for it can “fix” it. However, the truth in most cases, herniated discs must heal on its own. Most medical doctors will prescribe medication to help regulate pain (which can be incredible). So outside of regulating the pain from a herniated disc, there’s two options that chiropractors can offer.
To help expedite healing and care for some of the pain, Dr. Grassi writes that chiropractors will often develop a custom treatment plan for their patients which include spinal manipulation (otherwise called adjustments) and/or manual therapy and therapeutic exercises.
For next week, we’ll go over more details about how chiropractor’s relieve herniated disc pain!