Can a Chiropractor Help with a Herniated Disc?
If you’ve ever experienced the relief of a spinal adjustment, you might even have asked yourself, “Can a chiropractor fix a herniated disc?”
Chiropractors are experts in the spine and other joints, so it’s only natural that they would understand how to treat a disc protrusion or herniated disc. In this article, we’ll go over what exactly a herniated disc is, what causes them, common symptoms, and how chiropractic care can help.
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) that sit between the bones (vertebrae) that stack to make your spine.
A spinal disk has a soft, jellylike center (nucleus) encased in a tougher, rubbery exterior (annulus). Sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus.
A herniated disk, which can occur in any part of the spine, most often occurs in the lower back. Depending on where the herniated disk is, it can result in pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
Symptoms of Disc Protrusion or Herniation
If a disc herniates or protrudes, it puts pressure on the nerves that run through your spinal column. This is what causes your pain and other symptoms.
The specific symptoms you experience will depend on the location of your disc protrusion, but some of the most common symptoms are weakness, pain, numbness, or tingling.
However, because your nerves branch throughout your body, these symptoms may not be felt in the spine at all. For example, a herniated disc in the neck may cause numbness and tingling in your arm or wrist (this is known as referred pain).
Thus, even though your spinal nerve is being compressed, it is sending signals through the nerve root to other nerves throughout the body.
What Causes a Disc Protrusion?
Disc protrusions are part of a degenerative condition and there are three primary ways they can occur: stress, injury, or a combination of the two.
As you age, your discs can naturally start to thin and break down. As gravity pulls on your spinal column, this can cause the disc to protrude or rupture. Overexertion, bad posture, or being overweight can speed this process up.
A 2021 study found an increase in disc protrusion among fairly young individuals (around 25 years of age). Out of 33 patients with disc protrusions, 61% were smokers, the average Body Mass Index was in the “overweight” category, and all had sedentary lifestyles.
Do Chiropractors really help herniated discs?
- relieve your pain
- resume your normal activities in ways that are safe for your back