A disc herniation, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, is a medical condition that occurs when the cushion-like discs that separate the vertebrae in the spine bulge or rupture, causing the gel-like material inside the disc to leak out. This can put pressure on nearby nerves, resulting in pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area.
Disc herniation can occur in any part of the spine, but it is most common in the lower back (lumbar spine) and the neck (cervical spine). It can be caused by aging, wear and tear, or injury to the spine, and certain risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and a sedentary lifestyle can increase the likelihood of developing this condition.
Treatment for disc herniation depends on the severity of the symptoms and can range from conservative measures such as rest, physical therapy, and pain management, to more invasive treatments such as surgery.
Conservative treatment for disc herniation typically involves a combination of rest, physical therapy, and pain management techniques.
Here are some examples of conservative treatments:
- Rest: Taking a break from physical activities that aggravate the condition can help reduce pain and inflammation. Your doctor may recommend limiting activities like lifting heavy objects, bending, or twisting.
- Chiropractic care can be a part of the conservative treatment for disc herniation, but it should be approached with caution. Chiropractors use a variety of manual manipulation techniques to realign the spine, reduce pressure on the affected nerves, and alleviate pain. However, spinal manipulation may not be appropriate for everyone with a herniated disc, especially those with severe or persistent symptoms.
- Before starting chiropractic care, your chiropractor will likely perform a thorough physical examination and may request imaging tests, such as X-rays or MRI scans, to help diagnose the condition and assess the severity of the herniation.
- Chiropractic treatment for disc herniation may include:
- Spinal manipulation: The chiropractor uses their hands or a special instrument to apply controlled force to the affected area of the spine, helping to realign the vertebrae and reduce pressure on the affected nerves.
- Flexion-distraction technique: This is a gentle, non-invasive technique that involves the use of a special table that gently stretches the spine to alleviate pressure on the affected disc.
- It’s important to note that chiropractic care may not be appropriate for everyone with a herniated disc. In some cases, more aggressive treatment, such as surgery, may be necessary to relieve symptoms. It’s best to work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.
- Physical therapy: A physical therapist can work with you to develop a customized exercise program that includes stretches and strengthening exercises to improve your mobility and flexibility. They may also use techniques like massage, heat, or ice therapy to relieve pain.
- Pain management: Over-the-counter pain medications can help alleviate pain and inflammation. Your doctor may also prescribe stronger pain medications if necessary.
It’s important to note that conservative treatment may not work for everyone, and in some cases, surgery may be necessary to treat severe or persistent symptoms. It’s best to work closely with your doctor to determine the best treatment plan for your individual needs.