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Chiropractor for Algonquin and Lake in the Hills
An image showing a woman sitting on a mattress with lower back pain from a herniated disc.

Do You Have Lower Back or Neck Pain? Find Out Why Herniated Disc Treatment is Your Best Option.

Have you suffered from an abrupt pain in your lower back or neck? Are you unsure of the cause of it? Do you have pain or numbness in your arm or leg? You could have a herniated disc.

A herniated disc is a common cause of back and neck pain. You may have heard of athletes suffering from herniated discs after a sports injury. However, they are common in everyone and could lead to other issues.

But what is a herniated disc? What causes this common pain? And how do you find relief from a herniated disc? Read on to find out everything you need to know about herniated disc treatment!

What is a Herniated Disc?

First off, what is a herniated disc? At its most basic level, a herniated disc is an injury to the cushioning and connective tissue between vertebrae.

Let’s break that down a little bit to see what exactly happens with this injury.

Your spine is made up of individual bones that are connected between soft, cushiony discs. These discs are round with tough outer layers that surround the nucleus. So, there’s an exterior and interior part. The discs act as protection for the spinal bones.

A herniated disc occurs when the interior, or nucleus, pushes through the exterior. If it tears or ruptures the cushioned exterior, the disc becomes herniated. If it has not yet broken through the exterior, it is known as a bulging disc.

You can suffer a herniated disc anywhere on the spine. However, it is most common in the lower back and neck.

What are the Herniated Disc Causes?

Now that we’ve defined a herniated disc let’s look at what causes these injuries. Because of how common they are, the answer is a lot of things.

One of the most frequent reasons for a herniated disc is aging. It is most frequent in patients 35 to 50 years old. As you get older, parts of the spine degenerate, making it easier for the discs to rupture the exterior.

You can also suffer a herniated disc from gaining weight and low blood circulation. If you are overweight, you have a higher chance of causing a herniated disc. Also, smoking or inactivity can also cause a herniated disc.

A graphic showing the differences between a herniated disc and a bulging disc.
A herniated disc happens when the disc ruptures or breaks through the protective barrier in the spine. A disc bulges when it pushes against it but has not broken the barrier.

Herniated Discs in the Neck

Let’s look at herniated discs from the top down.

The top section of the spine is the cervical, also known as the neck. It contains nerves that connect to your arms, hands, and upper body. They also connect so that you can bend and twist your neck and back.

A herniated disc in the neck is a frequent reason for neck pain. If you put an unnecessary or sudden strain on the neck, it can cause a herniation. Trauma to the neck, such as whiplash, can also cause a herniated disc.

Herniated Discs in the Upper Back

Because they control the muscles, neuropathy in these nerves leads to deficiencies in strength and agility:

  • Weakness or paralysis of muscles
  • Loss of coordination, falling
  • Cramps or intense muscle twitching

What Causes a Herniated Disc in the Lower Back?

The lumbar section of the spine, or lower back, is the most targeted area for herniated discs. Most herniated disc treatment is focused on that area as well.

Like the other two areas, two significant ways to herniate a disc is from degeneration and trauma. However, the demographic of 35 to 50-year-old sees more herniated discs in their lower back than anywhere else.

Males are also twice as likely to suffer from a herniated disc in the lumbar section as compared to women.

Along with age and trauma, unnecessary strain or stress on the lower back causes a herniated disc.

We think of trauma as a force hitting your back, much like a football player being tackled or someone in a car accident. However, a herniated disc also occurs from physically demanding activities.

Pulling, pushing, and twisting actions done repeatedly add to the likelihood of a herniated disc.

What Are Herniated Disc Symptoms?

But how do you tell if you’re suffering from a herniated disc? There can be a lot of factors in determining whether you have this particular issue. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Arm or leg pain
  • Pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected area
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain that worsens while standing or sitting
  • Pain when walking short distances
  • Intermittent or continuous pain in the affected area
  • Spasm of back muscles
  • Changes in bladder or bowel function

Another symptom of a herniated disc is sciatica. Herniated discs are the most common form of sciatica. A symptom of sciatica is feeling tingling or numbness that runs from your buttocks and into your foot.

Sciatica can also be treated with chiropractic care and can give you relief from that type of pain.

A woman with lower back pain is examined by a chiropractor for a herniated disc treatment.
Chiropractic care offers the best possibility for herniated disc treatment.

What Are the Herniated Disc Treatment Options?

If you have a herniated disc, then there are several treatment options available to you. However, the safest and most effective way to treat a herniated disc is through chiropractic care.

Medication

Your doctor may prescribe you medication for your herniated disc. These include over-the-counter medications, which can be ibuprofen or Tylenol or Aleve. These medications are for mild to moderate pain levels and should still be taken accordingly.

The over-the-counter medications might combat the inflammation and reduce the pain. However, a chiropractor can target the specific area and provide the care you need to get back to living your life.

Surgery

The surgical route, which is not recommended, is for those with absolute severe pain levels. The surgeon removes the portion of the disc that is poking out of the cushion. The surgeon most likely will not need to remove the entire disc.

However, surgery comes with risks. First, it’s still surgery, and that has the usual risks. Also, the required bed rest after surgery can disrupt your lifestyle for a while. Complications can always arise during the surgical procedure. If the surgeon needs to take out the entire disc, it could result in bone fusion.

The costs alone for chiropractic care versus surgery outweigh the risks. Spinal surgery carries a cost of anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000. Visiting a chiropractor costs far less and does not have the same risks as surgery.

 

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care, also known as conservative care, is widely considered the best option for a herniated disc. Your chiropractor will offer you a variety of different methods, as listed below.

The herniated disc treatment non-surgical route is highly recommended because the benefits are long-lasting and offer you affordable, quality care.

What Are Herniated Disc Chiropractic Treatment Techniques?

Your ailment can be relieved with different treatment options. A chiropractor will usually prescribe you a combination of the herniated disc treatment plans.

What are some of the herniated disc chiropractic treatment techniques?

Cox Technic

The Cox Technic, developed over 50 years ago, is the gentle manipulation of the spine in order to reduce pain. You lay on a specialized table, and the chiropractor controls the movements.

Each movement is coordinated to bring your relief by gently “flexing” the spine. These motions are pain-free and can cause inflammation to go down and bring the spinal disc back where it needs to be.

Massage Therapy

Often used as a supplement to chiropractic care, massage therapy helps relax the muscles.

This treatment also improves your posture and increase your range of motion. With massage therapy, your spine’s adjustments will be targeted to bring you the best possible relief.

Vibration Therapy

Vibration therapy, or whole-body vibration therapy, is used to restore muscle strength. Gentle vibrations are sent through your body to restore your posture muscles, reduce pain and inflammation, and increase blood circulation.

Low blood circulation, as said above, is a cause of a herniated disc. Smokers, in particular, are subject to a herniated disc due to the lack of oxygen in the blood. Vibration therapy helps boost that circulation.

An image showing electrical stimulation nodes placed on a back for herniated disc treatment.
Electrical stimulation sends electric pulses into your body to reduce pain levels.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is another herniated disc treatment option. You will have small electric nodes placed on your affected area. These nodes are hooked up to a battery-powered device that delivers electric pulses into the body.

This technique proves useful in reducing pain and inflammation.

Your chiropractor will most likely prescribe a combination of these herniated disc treatment techniques.

In fact, by effectively using a mixture of these techniques, patients at Algonquin Chiropractic Center see a 50% improvement within the first 2-4 weeks. Each patient is different, and their treatment is different. However, the quality of care each patient receives will get the best possible results.

What Herniated Disc Exercises Can I Do?

In addition to chiropractic care, your chiropractor can have you on a regiment of exercises designed to reduce your pain levels and strengthen your muscles.

Each of the exercises might depend on your individual needs and abilities. These exercises have a common goal, however.

Improve Your Posture

You’ve heard the saying, “lift with your knees, not your back.” That’s incredibly important in warding off a herniated disc. Good posture can give you a stronger core and give you better spinal health.

Some of the exercises and herniated disc stretching might include ways to better your posture, especially while sitting and walking. Sitting puts more stress on your back than standing. Correct sitting posture can alleviate pain in your back.

Furthermore, how you walk can also impact your back. Your chiropractor may have you do sit and walking exercises to strengthen those muscles.

An image showing a chiropractor helping a man with core exercises for herniated disc treatment.
Having strong core muscles helps stabilize your spine.

Strengthen Your Core

Your core muscles are in the abdomen area and contribute to poor spine health. You need your core to be strong in order to stabilize your back. A weak core, perhaps from being overweight, pulls on the muscles in your back and increases the chance of a herniated disc.

Most care for general lower back pain comes in the form of core strengthening. Again, while it may depend on your needs and abilities, the exercises and stretching will focus on strengthening that muscle group.

Exercise Your Neck

If you have a herniated disc in your cervical area, you might have to do neck exercises. These can include chin tucks and other methods that improve your neck muscles. A weak neck, like weak muscles for the lower back, only adds to the likelihood of a herniated disc.

You should not attempt exercises by yourself if you think you have a herniated disc. After a consultation with a chiropractor, you will start a prescribed regiment, under the care of the doctor.

Performing exercises on your own could lead to a worsening of the symptoms.

How Do You Prevent a Herniated Disc?

Degenerative disc disease could be a result of genetics, and you may find it unavoidable. However, there are steps you can take to increase your chance of not herniating a disc. They are:

  • Keep good posture
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid excessive lifting
  • Quit smoking
  • Eat healthily
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Check with your doctor about any sudden or abrupt pains

Because of how common it is, fighting off a herniated disc means maintaining a healthy lifestyle. While your age does play a factor in getting one, you should take these steps to prevent it.

Are You Suffering from a Herniated Disc?

If you’re suffering from pain, don’t let it stop you from living your best life! A herniated disc can lead to other complications later in life, so don’t put off having it checked out.

A herniated disc is a common source of pain. If you think you have a herniated disc, or want to see how to prevent one, please reach out to us. Algonquin Chiropractic Center has been offering herniated disc treatment in Algonquin, IL, for more than 20 years. Don’t let the pain stop you from living a full life. Give us a call at (847) 854-2000 to make an appointment.