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Disc Injury Treatment

Disc Injury Treatment

What are the causes of disc injuries?

Disc Injury Cause

Before discussing disc injury treatment lets go over the cause. Usually, these injuries involve lifting something up off the ground and rotating the low back. However, the item doesn’t have to be heavy. We have seen people bend over to pick up a pencil and incur a disc protrusion. Repetitive compression of the spine can cause these injuries as well. Trampolines, cars or trucks with bad suspension, heavy weighted squatting workouts are some common mechanisms of injury.

The disc acts as a fluid filled pillow. A protective ring around the disc holds the fluid in place. This ring is susceptible to damage with rotational or compression forces. Damage includes both a bulge in the weakened part of the ring, or in more serious cases, a herniation resulting in fluid leaking onto the nerves. In addition to compressing the spinal nerves, this process casues severe inflamation and pain.

Both cases result in irritation or compression on the nerve root. The nerve transmits pain signals down through it’s distribution throughout the body when it gets irritated or compressed. These signals include pain, tingling, or numbness. The muscle may feel weak as well but can still move, and will lose all function when completely compressed. This is where you get complete muscle dysfunction and possible paralysis throughout the affected neurological distribution and systemic dysfunction including the intestines, bladder, and sex organs if it occurs in the low back.

Young couple hiking
X-ray of compressed disc

What are disc herniation symptoms?

Symptoms of disc injuries include:

  • Severe back pain
  • Restricted spinal range of motion
  • Pain with spinal motion
  • Radiating pain into arms or legs depending on spinal level
  • Tingling or numbness into arms or legs depending on spinal level
  • Severe cases can result in loss of bowel or bladder function or complete paralysis of a limb

Should the nerve become fully compressed and you experience any severe symptoms, chiropractic care is not the proper modality for treatment. In these cases, please seek medical care.

How do you fix a disc herniation?

Disc injuries are a common spinal condition. First, Dr. Jake will determine if chiropractic care is the proper treatment for your condition during your first visit. Many times with severe cases, you will be referred for advanced imaging to ensure your safety throughout the process. Dr. Jake is skilled in assessing the severity of the condition. He will make the appropriate judgement regarding imaging at the time of your first visit. Above all, he will ensure the highest level of safety for each patient.

Following all examinations, Dr. Jake will move forward with developing and implementing a disc injury treatment plan best fit for your individual condition. During the initial stages, most treatment plans involve flexion distraction therapy. This treatment is extremely gentle and requires twisting, or heavy pushing. In other words, no spinal popping. It works by creating a negative vacuum  effect by decompressing the disc which sucks the protruding fluid back into the center. Most disc problems protrude backward into the nerve root. This is why flexion distraction works so well because it decompresses the back part of the disc. 

This treatment is administered multiple times over a period of multiple weeks. The frequency of adjustments depends entirely on the severity of your condition. For example, if you have pain radiating into an extremity, you will likely need more frequent appointments. If  you are looking for a more detailed explanation of how we evaluate, treat and correct disc injuries, Email us at info@centralhealthdesmoines.com and we will send you our entire process.

What is treatment for a disc herniation?

In office treatment:

  • Flexion distraction or McKenzie method depending on the location of the herniation
  • Electrical muscle stimulation
  • Frequency of adjustments dependent on severity of condition

At home treatment:

  • Core exercises: bird dog, curl up, side and front planks
  • Avoid leg lifts, flutter kicks, sit-ups, crunches
  • Avoid long periods of sitting
  • Heated stretching, hot baths, hot yoga
  • Avoid self adjusting.

Before starting any treatment, consult your doctor or chiropractor!

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