Things To Know About Chiropractic Therapy For Disc Herniation

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You've been diagnosed with a ruptured disc, and sometimes the pain is disabling. Over-the-counter pain medication isn't working very well, and you don't like the way the prescribed drugs make you feel. Would chiropractic care help? Would spinal manipulation be too rough when you're having these problems? Fortunately, chiropractic care can be very effective at helping relieve herniated disc pain.

Chiropractic Evaluation

Your chiropractor needs to see any diagnostic imaging your primary doctor ordered. If your doctor did not order imaging, your chiropractor will probably want you to have X-rays. Depending on your symptoms, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) also may be advisable. The chiropractic doctor wants to view what's happening with your spine before beginning treatment. That way, he or she can develop the best treatment program for your particular situation.

This practitioner will evaluate your entire spine and the surrounding muscles. This helps the chiropractor learn whether any dysfunction in another area of the musculoskeletal system may have led to the herniated disc. 

Chiropractic Therapy

Spinal manipulation will probably be part of your therapy. If you've only seen chiropractors on TV doing "neck cracking," understand that this procedure is not always part of the process. Spinal manipulation can, in fact, be quite gentle.

During hands-on spinal manipulation, the chiropractic doctor aims to resolve subluxations, or areas of the spine that are out of alignment. This can speed healing of your ruptured disc, encouraging it to return to its normal position.

Another treatment for a ruptured disc is known as flexion-distraction. The chiropractor flexes and stretches the affected area of the spine to help the disc reshape to its normal form and to move the herniated part of the disc way from nerves. The disc being out of place and rubbing against nerves is what causes the inflammation and subsequent pain you experience. 

At-Home Therapy

Your chiropractor may teach you beneficial exercises to strengthen your spine and the surrounding muscles. Do these exercises at home as instructed, and you can help prevent another episode of disc herniation.

Additional Complementary Therapy

Many chiropractors team up with massage therapists so they can offer both types of treatment during one appointment. Massage can be especially beneficial for easing pain and enhancing your body's natural healing ability. Massage loosens tight muscles and boosts circulation to the treated areas, which brings extra oxygen and nutrients to the muscles, nerves and other soft tissues. 

Lifestyle Considerations

Your chiropractor will also encourage you to make lifestyle changes to prevent future back pain problems. This would involve losing weight if you're overweight, eating a nutritious diet that is essential for maintaining bone structure, and changing your posture to a more suitable position when you're standing and sitting.

Nutritional supplements may be recommended if you are not getting enough of the essential vitamins and minerals necessary for bone and muscle health. 

If you're a smoker, seriously consider quitting now. You already know that smoking has detrimental effects on health, but you may not have been aware that smokers are at increased risk for disc degeneration. Smoking reduces water in the discs, which in turn reduces flexibility and disc longevity. It also disrupts the flow of nutrients to the discs. 

Concluding Thoughts

During your initial and future appointments with your chiropractor, feel free to ask any questions you have about your herniated disc and the treatments. As a holistic practitioner, a chiropractic doctor is strongly interested in educating his or her patients so they can be at optimum health and function. You should heal relatively quickly from this current problem and be able to prevent future back problems with therapeutic exercises and beneficial lifestyle changes. Click here for more info on professionals in your area.