Chiropractic Care and Back Pain: Non-Invasive Treatment for Bulging, Ruptured, or Herniated Discs (Slipped Discs)

Chiropractic care is a non-surgical treatment option for herniated discs. But what is a chiropractor’s approach to treating a herniated disc?

What Is a “Slipped” Disc?
There is an intervertebral disc between each vertebra of the spine. Discs act as a shock absorber and a shock distributor. Imagine if you jump up and down. What would happen to the stack of bony vertebrae that make up the spine without the cushioning and support of these discs? Now, move your back from side to side. Again, you can visualize the give and take of the discs between the vertebrae. Without these discs, your spine couldn’t function.

Intervertebral discs don’t really “slip”—although the phrase “slipped disc” has come into popular usage to refer to bulging, ruptured, or herniated discs. Throughout this article, we’ll refer to herniated discs.

Your discs are made up of the annulus fibrosus (the tough outer layer) and the nucleus pulposus (which contains a soft, gelatin-like center). (See Figure 1.) When cracks occur in the outer layer of the disc, the material inside of the disc can begin to push out. Numerous factors can cause a disc to herniate.

For example, there may be too much stress on the disc due to poor posture or from being overweight.

In fact, a herniated disc can be caused by a combination of factors.

Can Sneezing Cause a Herniated Disc?
For many people with back pain caused by a back pain condition (ie, herniated disc), the problem starts off small and then gradually builds until you start to feel symptoms, such as back pain. See Figure 2, which shows the various stages of disc degeneration.

For example, let’s say you sneeze and feel a sudden, sharp pain in your back. Then that pain progresses into leg pain. You may have had an underlying herniated disc, and the sneeze was what triggered it to progress.

Intervertebral discs depend on water to be healthy and function properly. But as we get older, discs become less hydrated, which can make the discs lose their height. When this happens, they are more vulnerable to cracks in the annulus fibrosus.

Chiropractic Care and Herniated Discs
Chiropractors evaluate the entire spine, so if you have a herniated disc, your chiropractor will look at other areas of the spine, too.

Because the spine functions as a whole, mechanical problems in one part of the spine can affect another area of the spine.

To treat a herniated disc, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that may include spinal manipulation and other chiropractic techniques to help ease your herniated disc symptoms.  This will be an individualized treatment plan, but it may include manual therapy and therapeutic exercises.


article taken from Spine Universe – by Julie M. Gentile

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