The discs are pads that serve as "cushions" between the vertebral bodies, which minimize the impact of movement on the spinal column. Each disc is designed like a jelly donut with a central softer component (nucleus pulposus). Abnormal rupture of the central portion of the disc is referred to as a disc herniation. The most common location for a herniated disc to occur is in the disc at the level between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae in the low back. If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc herniation. This can frequently cause numbness and tingling or radiating pain into the arm and hand if a cervical disc is involved, or into the leg and foot if a lumbar disc is involved. This is also known as sciatica.
SOME OF THE MOST COMMON CAUSES OF DISC HERNIATIONS:
- Spinal wear and tear: Herniated disc pain is frequently due to everyday spinal wear and tear — or degeneration. Your back carries and helps distribute your weight. Your intervertebral discs are made for absorbing shock from movement like twisting, walking and bending. Since your discs work hard to help you move so well, over time they can get worn out. The annulus fibrous (the tough outer disc layer) can become weak and allow the nucleus pulposus (the jelly-like inner layer) to start pushing through, and this turns into a herniated disc.
- Injury: Injury, such as from a car accident, can lead to a herniated disc. The sudden jerking movement can put too much pressure on your disc, causing it to herniate. Twisting or incorrectly lifting a heavy object can herniate a disc as well.
- A combination of injury and degeneration: It might be wear and tear has weakened your intervertebral disc, making it more susceptible to herniation if you experience a traumatic event. Or, your disc may have weakened so much that something less traumatic could cause herniation, even something like sneezing. When you already have a weakened disc, it is susceptible to the sudden force sneezing creates.
- Obesity: If you’re overweight, you’re also at a higher risk of disc herniation because your discs need to support the extra weight. Too much weight, particularly around your midsection, can strain your lower back. A sedentary lifestyle and weak muscles might also contribute to the condition’s development.
- Motions and lifting: Certain movements might also lead to a herniated disc. The disc can slip out of place when you turn to lift an object or twist. Lifting a heavy, large object can also strain your back to the point a slipped disc develops. If you have an extremely physically demanding job requiring a lot of lifting, you might have an increased risk for disc herniation.
- Smoking: Nicotine limits spinal disc blood flow, making degeneration more severe and hampering healing. Degenerated discs are not as pliable as before and are more prone to tearing and cracking. This can cause disc herniation.
- Hereditary tendency: Disc degeneration and a hereditary disc degeneration tendency can increase your risk for herniation. A study showed a family with a history of a disc herniation is a good indicator for future herniation.
- Frequent driving: Sitting in a seat for a long period, along with the car engine’s vibration can add pressure on your discs and spine
- Sedentary lifestyle: Regularly exercising is essential in preventing a lot of health conditions, including herniated discs.
Chiropractic treatment focuses on utilizing spinal manipulative therapy (SMT), or more commonly known as the chiropractic adjustment, to reduce joint restrictions or misalignments in the spine and other joints in the body in an effort to reduce inflammation and improve function of both the affected joint and nervous system. Our doctors may also utilize physical therapy, therapeutic modalities, taping and strapping, nutrition, joint supports, exercises and home therapy regimens to quicken recovery. Treatment is safe, non-invasive, and a non-addictive alternative to prescription medications or over-the-counter pain medications. By increasing joint mobility and improving your nervous system function and spinal health, your body has the ability to better manage symptoms caused by disc herniations.
To see if chiropractic care is right for your condition, the highly trained doctors at Chiropractic Orthopedic Associates will perform a consultation, examination and if necessary, refer you out for diagnostic imaging such as x-ray or MRI. Based on the findings of our chiropractic exam and consultation, your doctor of chiropractic may elect to co-treat your low back pain with other healthcare professionals. We work with a network of healthcare providers that specialize in pain management, orthopedics, neurology, internal medicine, physiatry, neurosurgery and more.