Are you afflicted by an unknown source of shooting pain, tingling, or numbness down the arms or legs? How about pain radiating down your body as far as the calf muscle, or even the foot? If you unfortunately find yourself nodding “yes” in response to either of these questions, you might be suffering from a herniated disc. The leading cause of lower back and leg pain (sciatica), herniated discs occur most often in the lumbar region of the lower spine, but can also appear in the upper neck and shoulder regions. In order to recognize the presence of a herniated disc, and understand why this injury can be debilitating if not properly treated, it is helpful to be familiar with the basic anatomy of the spine.
The spine consists of individual bones (vertebrae) stacked on top of one another and separated by circular pads, or inter-vertebral discs. These discs give the spine its ability to bend and twist, in addition to providing critical protection in the form of shock absorption. Inter-vertebral discs consist of two main components: the inner, jelly-like substance known as the Nucleus Pulposis, and the outer ring of ligaments that surround this substance called the Annulus Fibrosis. This ring of annulus fibers keeps the jelly-like nucleus in the center of the inter-vertebral disc when gravity compresses an upright spine under normal conditions. However, if the fibers of the Annulus Fibrosis become weakened or strained, the Nucleus Pulposis can become inflamed, bulge (herniate), or even rupture outside of the vertebrae and into the spinal canal. Developing a herniated disc grows more likely with age, but it can also be the result of twisting or lifting a heavy object. The symptoms of this injury vary from case to case, but can include tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the afflicted area, pain or numbness extending to the arms and legs, muscle weakness, or pain that worsens after sitting, standing, or walking short distances. The presence of leg pain stems from the added pressure that the herniated disc places on the spinal nerves as they run through the spinal canal. If left untreated, a herniated disc can leave permanent nerve damage, and cause a loss of sensation or muscular strength in the back of the legs and inner thighs. Before a taking a surgical approach to this problem, we recommend the conservative treatment provided by chiropractic care. At Grieb Chiropractic Clinic, we offer a free spinal analysis that will allow us identify the presence of a herniated disc, and determine the proper course of therapy that will heal the injury without the use of invasive procedures. Here’s how chiropractic can help.
The most effective chiropractic treatment for a herniated disc is the use of the Cox Technique, or spinal flexion distraction. This technique utilizes a specially designed table to administer stretches that gently lengthen and decompress the spine. During treatment, the patient lies face down and the lower half of the table supporting the legs remains mobile. The doctor then guides this section down and away while applying specially targeted hand contact to stabilize the vertebrae above the affected disc. This series of stretches is applied with a push-pull movement in a way that is rhythmical, slow, and smooth, and ultimately intended to reduce the amount of pressure on the damaged inter vertebral disc. This decrease in pressure not only reduces pain in the surrounding area, but also aids in the healing of the strained outer ring of the damaged inter-vertebral disc. The movements create a “vacuum effect” on its inner nucleus (known as disc decompression) drawing the substance back into the center of the disc and reducing the size of or completely resorbing the herniation. This decreases the pressure that was placed on the spinal nerves by the bulging disc, and stops pain, tingling, and numbness from radiating into the legs. The spinal flexion distraction treatments provided at Grieb Chiropractic, combined with electrical stimulation and physiological therapeutics from repeated visits, will ease your immediate discomfort and begin preventative care for your future well being. Try chiropractic first. Give us a call to set up an appointment at (724)-935-6050 today!