Herniated Disc Treatment

When people think of a herniated disc or a slipped disc, they visualize a stack of plates with one sticking out. That’s not the scenario at all. Instead, the discs are actually soft that act as cushions for the vertebrae and allows everyday motions. 

What makes a disc become herniated is when the soft interior, called the pulposus, pushes through a crack in the harder outer shell, called the annulus - just like a hernia where other body parts push through a hole in the cavity that holds it.

Fortunately, herniated discs very rarely need to be surgically treated. A chiropractor can handle the situation for the vast majority of the time and going to the operating room is a last resort when every other option has failed and the patient’s quality of life is severely hampered. Though patients who are very overweight or smoke are generally not candidates for surgery.

Read on to learn how a herniated disc treatment can be performed by a chiropractor. 

Table of Contents

Causes

A herniated disc may begin with something as innocent as a sneeze. The human body is a wonderful thing, but the number of ways that it can be injured while performing everyday motions and actions that usually don’t occur in injury would be laughable… if it didn’t eventually wind up hurting.

There are several stages before the disc becomes completely herniated. A normal disc will begin degenerating, with the annulus becoming more brittle. Then the pulposus will begin pushing out in a stage called prolapse. Then it begins coming out even more in a stage called extrusion. Finally, the pulposus will be out as far as it can be, and that is called sequestration. 

Symptoms

There are times when one can have a herniated disc and not show any signs of pain or distress. It’s all dependent on how large the herniation is or how much is protruding or what nerves, if any, it’s touching. 

People can feel pain in the back, arm, foot or leg. There can be muscle spasms, overactive reflexes, or muscle weakness. They can feel tingling and burning in various areas, along with pins and needles and numbness in areas like the legs, neck, and hands. 

These symptoms can cause difficulties like stumbling or having difficulty holding things. They need a medical diagnosis to confirm it, since there are other ailments that can mimic the above. Life can be very challenging with them, so it’s best to get to the root of the problem and fix it. Fortunately, many cases can be resolved without having to resort to surgery. 

Treatment

Before starting anything, the chiropractor will assess what is going on with the patient’s back - though he or she will look at the patient’s whole spine even if the pain or weakness is confined to a certain area. They will conduct an examination and look over the patient’s medical history along with testing reflex action to see if the nerves are sending messages correctly.  They also look for loss of muscle strength or signs of muscle wasting and if there is any loss of sensation along a nerve’s pathway.

Once he or she is satisfied that they know the state of the disc herniation, the chiropractor may try one of several different methods:

  • Flexion-distraction - This is a very gentle technique where the chiropractor takes pressure off the nerves of the spine. The movements used are slow and do not result in jerky maneuvers. The patient tends not to feel any discomfort throughout and it’s done with him or her lying face down on a specially-designed table. It’s a way of creating space between the joints.
  • Manipulation Under Anesthesia - Patients who need to have range of motion therapy but have pain with movements can have this done so that the chiropractor can move the joints around without the patient feeling pain. It can be done under IV anesthesia or by injection. A board-certified anesthesiologist assists.
  • Pelvic Blocking - Wedges are placed under the pelvis on both sides and allows the disc to move away from the nerve. 
  • Spinal Decompression - This is a table that helps move the discs back into their proper place and thus should relieve any discomfort. It uses computer sensors that then move the table to stretch the spine. 

What a chiropractor does NOT do is “slip a disc back into place” with adjustments. Any popping sound that the patient hears is the release of gas that has been under pressure inside of a joint.

Also, people may operate under the assumption that it will only require a few visits and then everything will be speedily fixed by the chiropractor. It’s a process and the patient needs to do things like keep their weight under control and not smoke. While doing all this many not be a complete preventative - remember, the body can do strange things - it can tilt the odds in the patient’s favor. 

Dr. Robert Gucciardo can help with herniated discs. He has extensive chiropractic experience and with his methods, he can have patients feeling as good as they ever have. Contact him today to see what he can do - 718-845-2323.

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