Have you been experiencing pain that seems to be originating in your spinal area? Or have you recently had numbness in your legs, back, or arms and not known why? Perhaps you’ve notices muscle loss or poor reflexes and suspected that the problem might be related to an underlying cause. Actually, millions of people every year notice symptoms like these and eventually discover that a herniated disc in the spine is the primary cause.
If you’re like most concerned adults who suffer one or more common symptoms of a herniated disc, you’re likely wondering what the condition is, what its symptoms are, whether you should see a chiropractor, and what a chiropractor will do to help alleviate your pain. Of course, some people choose to go “under the knife” and get major surgery for disc problems, but that’s not always necessary. At Spinal Health and Wellness, we suggest that everyone find out about all their options before making a decision to undergo or not undergo surgery. Chiropractic care is a common solution for many who have just recently noticed symptoms or suspect that they have a disc problem. Remember, not all cases of herniated discs show any symptoms at all. So, if you’ve been in an accident that caused a back injury, it’s wise to get yourself checked for possible disc problems as soon as possible.
What is a Herniated Disc?
It’s important to know what a herniated disk is. Often called a “slipped disc,” it’s a situation in which one of the sponge-like cushions in between your vertebrae is in some way damaged. Discs have very soft middle layers but rubber-like exteriors that act as protective layers. Whenever the soft center portion “breaks through” the harder exterior, you experience a herniated disc.
There’s some confusion surrounding the condition because of the term “herniated.” Medical professionals use the word to refer to any bodily tissue that extends above or beyond its usual limits. When a spinal disc becomes “herniated,” that simply means that it has “pushed beyond” where it normally should be.
In other words, it’s soft, center portion has broken through the tough covering that usually protects it. In reality, the condition can be extremely painful and cause all sorts of medical problems because the protruding portion of the disc often presses on a nerve, often leading to weakness, numbness in various body parts, and severe pain.
The good news is that most people who suffer from a herniated disc do not need to have surgery and can find relief after standard, in-office treatment by a chiropractor.
Common Herniated Disc Symptoms
What are the most typical symptoms of a herniated disc? Keep in mind that in most cases, disc problems are located in the lower back, even though a small percentage of patients do experience herniation higher up the spine or even in the neck area. There are generally two things that determine what kinds of symptoms you’ll experience and how severe the symptoms will be: where the herniation is located and whether or not the protruding part of the disc is pressing against a nerve.
Many herniated discs present no symptoms at all. In other cases, a herniated disc can cause one or more of the following symptoms:
- Numbness: Numbness in any part of the body can be a sign of multiple illnesses but often can mean a herniated disc. The numbness can sometimes be radiating or “come and go,” depending on the primary cause. In any case, get it checked out as soon as possible.
- Weakness: General muscle weakness anywhere on the body but particularly in the arms, legs, or abdomen.
- Pain: If you have pain in the buttocks area, calf of either leg, or thigh of either leg, it’s possibly due to nerve pressure from a herniated disc in the spine. The pain can be mild or severe and be continuous or intermittent.
- Stiffness: General muscular stiffness in any area of the body. Stiffness typically occurs on just one side of the body.
- Tenderness or soreness in any bodily area but especially near or around the spinal column.
- Tingling: A “pins and needles” sensation often occurs in the part of the body related to the pressurized nerve. When a ruptured disc rubs against a spinal nerve, the pain might not even appear in the spine but in a limb or other body part.
What Chiropractors Look For
A trained chiropractor will ask you about any physical pain you’re experiencing. But in addition to pain, a chiropractor will ask about any problems you’ve been having with your reflexes, tingling sensations, general muscle weakness, numbness anywhere on your body, and other conditions. Plus, a chiropractor will possibly order X-rays and examine them to search for abnormalities.
Reasons to See a Chiropractor for a Herniated Disc
Why would someone see a chiropractor for a herniated disc? There are many reasons people call us and visit our offices at Spinal Health and Wellness, but the most common ones include the following:
- To avoid having invasive surgery on the back
- The desire to become more mobile after treatment
- They want a treatment approach that is 100 percent drug-free
- Patients seek out experts who focus on back and spine health, as chiropractors do
- They seek medical treatment that is typically covered by major insurance, as is the case with most chiropractic treatment for herniated discs
- They want a health care provider who will do a thorough exam and make an honest assessment about whether or not surgery is needed. Furthermore, many sufferers of herniated discs want to explore non-surgical treatment options and see if they can get relief from non-invasive, non-drug approaches.
Herniated Disc Treatment Strategies and Approaches
There are dozens of methods chiropractors can use to treat herniated discs, including pelvic blocking, MUA (manipulation under anesthesia, and flexion-distraction. Every patient is different, so don’t expect to get the same treatment as anyone else. Chiropractors will assess your entire spine for problems and take into account anything unique to your health before prescribing a course of action.
Don’t Be “Chiro-phobic”
Unfortunately, many people fear going to the doctor. Whatever the reason, it’s a fact that millions of adults put off seeing a doctor due to a general anxiety associated with all things medical. Additionally, people who have never been to a chiropractor might not fully understand what chiropractic medicine is all about. In most cases, it’s easy to eliminate those fears with a little bit of education.
Chiropractors help many patients avoid surgery, get long-term relief from chronic pain, and learn how to maintain good health for years after treatment. Of course, some cases of herniated discs require surgery, and your chiropractor will tell you if you should have surgery instead of less invasive treatments. At Spinal Health and Wellness, our physicians have years of experience with herniated disc conditions and know how to bring relief to those who suffer. Visit our office and see if you are a candidate for a non-surgical treatment for your pain.