What is a Herniated Disc?
People who suffer from back pain, leg pain, excessive weakness in the legs, and abnormal functions of the lower extremities are often diagnosed with a herniated disc. The question is – exactly what is a herniated disc, and how is it determined if this is causing the symptoms?
An intervertebral disc is made up of an outer, fibrous ring, and a central soft portion. The disc itself receives nourishment through the motion of the vertebrae above and below it moving and "squishing" the blood and fluids through the disc. If this movement does not occur, the outer ring can dry and tear which allows the soft portion of the disc to bulge out. This is what is commonly known as a herniated disc. (Also called a slipped disc, bulging disc, disc protrusion, etc.)
Not all herniated discs cause pain or discomfort. It is when the bulge puts pressure on the exiting spinal nerve that pain, or an inflammatory reaction, will occur. It is therefore very important to have a full understanding of what is causing the pain.
What is Subluxation?
Another term important to understand in the diagnosis of a herniated disc is subluxation. Subluxation is when one or more of the bones of your spine (vertebrae) move out of position. The result can be a herniated disc. If this creates pressure on spinal nerves, problems will result. This pressure or irritation on the nerves causes the nerves to malfunction and interfere with the signals traveling over those nerves.
Symptoms can be one or more of the following:
· Pain spreading over the buttocks, down the back of one thigh, and into the calf
· Pain may be in one leg (more common) or both legs
· Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs or feet
· Numbness, tingling, or weakness in one or both arms
· In severe cases, inability to find comfort even lying down
· Sudden aching or twisted neck that cannot be straightened without severe pain
· Bowel or bladder changes and / or numbness in the groin
Treatments for a herniated can range from physical therapy, to anti-inflammatory medication, to cortisone shots to surgery. Because back surgery is extremely invasive, and because surgery is not always totally successful in correcting the problem, it would be wise to seek out the services of a doctor of chiropractic first. Before resorting to a surgical approach, it just makes good sense to try a more conservative procedure.
A doctor of chiropractic is trained to locate subluxations, and reduce or correct them. This can be accomplished through a series of chiropractic adjustments designed to correct the vertebral subluxations in your spine. Chiropractors are the only professionals who undergo years of training to be experts at correcting subluxations. There are methods to decompress the vertebrae which allow the disc the ability to heal itself.
Be aware that few treatments – even chiropractic treatment – can make up for years of abuse and neglect of spinal health that many people endure. Poor nutrition, poor posture, lack of proper exercise, and even incorrect lifting methods are among the many ways the spine suffers abuse.
Early diagnosis and conservative treatment is the best way to begin correcting the pain suffered from a herniated disc. And the chiropractic approach is an excellent first choice for extended pain relief and for a healthier spine in the future!