Back pain is a problem that will affect most people during their lifetime. There are various different types of back pain, but one of the most common is that which arises as a result of having a herniated disc. A herniated disc occurs when one of the soft, spongy discs that sit between each of the bones that make up the spine ruptures, causing the jelly-like center to push out through the tougher, rubbery exterior. When this happens, the part of the disc that has herniated can irritate the surrounding nerves, triggering symptoms associated with the condition.
The vast majority of people who experience a herniated disc find that their issue is caused by the natural deterioration of the discs and daily wear and tear placed onto the spine each day. As we get older, our body loses some of its natural water content. The intervertebral discs are just as affected by this issue and as they dehydrate, they become drier and at greater risk of being damaged by pressure placed onto them. Even a simple movement that you might normally take for granted, such as picking up a box or bending over to tie your shoelace could put enough pressure onto the spine to cause damage.
Unsurprisingly, there are also some additional factors that make a patient more likely to experience a herniated disc. These include being overweight, working a job that is very physically demanding, such as gardening, building or working in a warehouse.
Disc herniation causes a variety of symptoms, including:
Lower back pain
Muscle weakness, particularly in the limbs
Neurological abnormalities including tingling, numbness, pinching and coldness in your shoulders, arms, back, legs, feet or hands
Difficulty straightening up from a bent position
Sciatic pain (this is where the pain is felt in the buttocks, hips, and legs and is caused by the herniated disc compressing the sciatic nerve, which is the main nerve running down from the back into each leg)
Your chiropractor will be able to undertake a physical assessment of your body and symptoms in order to successfully and accurately diagnose a herniated disc. At this point, they can determine which chiropractic techniques will be most beneficial for relieving your symptoms.
Chiropractic care is a non-invasive and drug-free approach to treating problems affecting the musculoskeletal system. The musculoskeletal system comprises of the bones of the skeleton, the muscles, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues that hold our body together to give it structure, to enable us to stand, bend and move. When there is a problem with a component of this system, it can cause pain and a range of other debilitating systems. Thankfully, chiropractors have undertaken specific studies to understand how it works and how the musculoskeletal system can be realigned in order to enable the body to heal itself and function optimally.
This realignment can take place using a series of different techniques, from therapeutic massage and spinal adjustments using the hands and handheld tools, to cold therapy and physical therapy exercises. Many people are under the misconception that chiropractic adjustments are painful, but this is rarely the case. However, pressure, pulling and pushing is to be expected if your treatment involves manipulations, and these will help to realign your spine and free any areas of tension, facilitating improved blood flow and the release of endorphins to reduce pain and inflammation, and increase the rate of healing.
Your chiropractor will put together a treatment plan for you based on your individual needs following your consultation. They will be happy to explain what techniques will be used to treat your herniated disc and what you can expect to happen at your appointments.
If you are concerned that you may be affected by a herniated disc and would like more information, or to schedule an appointment with our experienced chiropractic team in Boston, MA, please get in touch today.