We have 33 individual bones in our spine. These are called vertebrae and they are all stacked on top of one another to form the spinal column. However, between each vertebra is a small, roundish disc. These discs have a tough, fibrous outer shell and a soft, jelly-like substance in the middle. They serve several purposes. Firstly, they act as shock-absorbers, protecting the bones of the spine from rubbing against one another. Secondly, they provide flexibility in the spine so that we can twist and bend our backs.
Ideally, these discs will remain perfectly in place. However, many people suffer from a condition known as a herniated disc. This is where the disc bulges out of place, placing pressure on the surrounding nerves and tissues and not working as effectively as before. Sometimes, if the load on the disc is too great, the disc itself can rupture, enabling the soft, inner gel to leak out into the space around it. Again, this can cause pain and irritation of the nerves found in the spine.
Exactly what causes a herniated disc can vary, from general age-related wear and tear (which can be exacerbated by being overweight or obese) to accidents/trauma or even a repetitive strain injury.
There are many different symptoms of a herniated disc. If you identify with any of the following, you could be affected:
Pain when coughing, sneezing or moving in certain positions
Pain that gets worse when you move around, but improves when you rest
Pain that radiates down into the buttocks, thighs and calves
Pain that stems from a specific part along the backbone, just above the hips
Tingling, muscle weakness and numbness in the legs
Diagnosing a herniated disc isn’t always straightforward. In addition to considering the symptoms that you are experiencing; your doctor or chiropractor may require you to have x-rays or an MRI scan of the area in order to confirm that they are being caused by disc herniation.
While a herniated disc can be very painful and debilitating, it is an issue that can usually be resolved by a chiropractor. A chiropractor is a specialist practitioner that focuses on diagnosing, treating, and managing conditions affecting the spine and wider musculoskeletal system. Unsurprisingly, this makes them ideal for addressing issues like a herniated disc.
Although there are lots of different techniques used by chiropractors, several are particularly beneficial for treating a herniated disc.
This is the type of chiropractic treatment that most people are familiar with and involves the practitioner using their hands to alter the position of the body and spine in a series of short, forceful movements. Adjustments can be uncomfortable, but they shouldn’t be painful. The aim of this technique is to bring the spine into alignment in order to reduce pressure on the surrounding nerves. Studies have also found that chiropractic adjustments promote better circulation, enabling blood and nutrients to flow to areas of the body that require healing, prompt the release of natural, pain-relieving endorphins and have a number of other beneficial therapeutic effects.
Spinal decompression is another popular chiropractic technique. As you may have guessed from the name, the process involves reducing compression in the spine. This is done using either manual or motorized traction, during which the spine is gently stretched to relieve pressure and the associated symptoms. This can enable a herniated disc to move back into its usual position and eliminate the symptoms that you have been experiencing.
If you are concerned that you may have a herniated disc, or if you would like to find out more about chiropractic treatments for a herniated disc, visit Smith Chiropractic in El Paso, Texas. Call (915) 233-3100 today.