A herniated spinal disc (also sometimes known as a bulging or slipped disc) is one of the more common serious lower back problems that will bring patients in to see Dr. Nathen Horst. It is most common in patients between the ages of 30 and 50, and is more likely to occur in men than in women by a ratio of 2 to 1.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
Between each vertebrae of the spine, there is a fibrous ring that helps protect the back and allow for free movement. If the outer ring develops tears, the inner ring may then bulge out past the damaged outer ring, thus causing a herniated disc. This is most likely to happen in the lumber, or lower back region, of the spine.
Patients will often complain of pain that goes from the lower back all the way down to the heel of the foot. They may also have weakness or numbness in one or both legs. Sitting, standing, or lying down for too long will aggravate the condition.
The lifetime odds of developing a herniated disc with symptoms are about 2 percent. However, 20 percent to 35 percent of working-age adults may have a herniated disc with no symptoms.
What Is the Standard Treatment for a Herniated Disc?
There are a wide variety of treatment options for a herniated disc. Mild cases can usually be treated with physical therapy, stretching exercises, ice, and NSAID painkillers. Moderate cases can be treated with opioid (narcotic) painkillers, and oral steroids and steroid injections in the back to reduce inflammation. In severe cases, surgery may be recommended, which will involve removing the part of the disc that is bulging. However, many patients have found that chiropractic care has been beneficial for this condition.
Chiropractic Treatment of Herniated Discs
An article in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Manipulative and Physiologic Therapies evaluated the outcomes for 148 patients with lower back and leg pain as a result of a herniated disc. All were treated with high velocity, low amplitude spinal manipulation. At the end of three months, more than 90 percent of patients reported improvement. At the end of one year, 89 percent of patients reported improvement. Furthermore, 82 percent of chronic pain patients reported improvement at three months, and 89 percent reported improvement at one year.
Another article from the October 2010 issue of the same journal followed 40 patients who either received spinal surgery or spinal manipulation for a herniated disc. Sixty percent of patients benefitted to the same degree from spinal manipulation as if they had undergone surgery. Given that spinal manipulation costs less, this would allow for effective treatment of herniated discs at less financial burden to both the patient and the healthcare system.
Recent research has made it very clear that not only can chiropractic spinal manipulation relieve the symptoms of herniated discs, it is at least as effective as spinal surgery (if not more so). Furthermore, the financial costs of chiropractic care compared to surgical intervention make chiropractic the obvious first treatment of choice for herniated discs.
To schedule an appointment for a spinal adjustment, contact Horst Chiropractic today.