Many people have either heard of or experienced the pain associated with a herniated or a ‘blown disc’ but what does that mean and how can chiropractic help? A good place to start when discussing the causes and solutions to treating a herniated disc is by explaining the anatomy of a vertebral disc. The disc itself functions as a cushion for the vertebrae (or bones) that make up our spine. In addition, discs help to create space for the exiting nerve roots that come off of the spinal cord at each level to innervate the organs, muscles and joints of the body. The disc itself can be compared to a jelly donut- with a soft, pliable inside (the nucleus pulposus) and a sturdier outer layer (the annulus fibrosis).
When a disc herniation occurs it can be a result of an acute trauma or from chronic abuse and degeneration over the years. A bulging disc is one of the most common disc problems that people encounter. This is not a true disc herniation as the annulus fibrosis is still fully intact. This may or may not cause pain for an individual (usually 50% do, 50% do not) and is a symmetric bulging of the entire disc. A disc protrusion is a true herniation, with a tear in the annulus fibrosis where part of the nucleus pulposus goes beyond the borders of the annulus fibrosis. A protrusion differs from an extrusion in that an extrusion can travel up or down the vertebral segment adjacent to the disc. There is also the possibility of a sequestration in which a part of the nucleus actually breaks off and is a free fragment. Most people with protrusions, extrusions, and sequestrations do experience local and radiating ( into the arm/ leg) pain. Herniated discs are most common at L5/S1 which is the transitional segment between the last lumbar vertebrae and the start of the sacrum (tailbone).
What if you already have a disc herniation? Chiropractic care can help to treat herniated discs. To treat a herniated disc, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that may include appropriate 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.
The specifics of what are in your treatment plan are particular to your pain, level of activity, overall health, and your specific diagnosis.
For any questions, or to schedule an appointment call our Mount Pleasant chiropractic office at 843-416-8012.