A slipped disc – otherwise known as a herniated, prolapsed, or ruptured disc – refers to a condition in which an injured or degenerated disc is protruding against nearby nerve tissue. Any disc along the spine can become herniated, and although the lower back is most often the site of such an injury, the neck and middle back can also be affected.
Some patients do not experience symptoms from a slipped disc, although some do suffer great pain.
Discs are shock-absorbing protective pads found between the vertebrae in the spine. The term “slipped” is a bit misleading, as in reality, discs bulge, split, or rupture. This condition can cause the failure of nearby cartilage and tissue. The gel from inside the disc leaks into the surrounding tissue, subsequently asserting pressure on the spinal cord or nerves. Weakness, numbness, or pain can appear in the immediate area, or along the path the affected nerve travels.
Pain which occurs along the nerve is known as referred pain. The pain travels from the bones of the spine to another part of the body, such as an arm or leg.
What are the Symptoms of Slipped Discs?
The general symptoms of herniated discs include:
- Neck or back pain that limits the range of motion or activity
- Pain, numbness or weakness lasts several days
- Chest or abdominal pain, fever or bladder issues
Herniated or slipped disc in the neck: Symptoms include numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the shoulder, neck, arm, or hand. The movement of the neck can result in increased or decreased symptoms.
Herniated or slipped disc in the back: Symptoms include pain which runs down the back of each leg, known as sciatica; numbness, tingling, weakness, or pain in the buttocks, back, legs, or feet; pain with movement, straining or coughing; or difficulty with bowel or bladder function.
While surgery may be required for severe situations, most slipped or herniated disks can be treated with ice packs, physical therapy, massage, exercise, and chiropractic care.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
The aging process can lead to slipped discs, as degeneration and loss of elasticity is a significant risk factor.
However, younger people can suffer slipped or herniated discs with the improper lifting of heavy objects, twisting or turning in the wrong way, or with excessive strenuous activities. Sudden acute trauma, such as from a car accident, is considered a low risk for this type of injury.
Chiropractic Treatment for a Slipped Disc
If you come to a chiropractor for treatment, this is what you can expect.
After going through your medical history, a physical and neurological exam is likely. The chiropractor will be looking to see if your reflexes are intact, if these are signs of muscle wasting or loss of muscle strength, and if there is a loss of sensation along the nerve path. Your chiropractor will also evaluate your posture and may order an Xray or MRI for further diagnostic purposes.
The difference between a chiropractic doctor and other medical professionals is that your DC will examine the entire spine. In other words, even if the pain is in your lower back, the chiropractor will look for signs of trouble from the neck on down. He is looking for overall health (or injury) of the spine, not just treating one small portion of it.
After examining you, taking your x-rays and symptoms into account, your chiropractor will determine if your slipped disc can be treated with chiropractic care or if additional medical treatment is necessary. Still, most disc injuries are related to slipped or herniated discs, and your chiropractor can help you with treatment and pain management options. If you are in pain or experiencing symptoms of a slipped disc, call West Coast Wellness for an appointment.