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Non-surgical, Chiropractic Treatment of Disc Bulge and Herniation

An episode of back or neck pain may be secondary to a disc injury.  A disc injury may also result in arm or leg pain, burning, tingling, or numbness because of irritation of a nerve root (aka pinched nerve). Not everyone with nerve irritation will have neck or back pain, despite that being the site of nerve irritation.

3 causes of nerve irritation: bone spurs, ligament hypertrophy, and disc bulge

3 causes of nerve irritation: bone spurs, ligament hypertrophy, and herniated disc

After reviewing the available medical research, the Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement has advised that the appearance of a disc herniation does not rule out a course of conservative therapy. Unless “red flag” indications (fever, serious trauma, progressive weakness) are present, all patients should undergo a trial of conservative therapy.

Step one of conservative, chiropractic treatment is to get the swelling under control. The doctor may use a protocol of manipulative procedures and physical therapies designed to relieve the swelling as quickly as possible. As the swelling diminishes so will the pain.

Step two involves improving the mechanical function of the low back. There are several ways to do this and our doctors will work with the treatment they think is best for you.

Step three focuses on strengthening and stabilizing the area with rehabilitation to prevent re-occurrence and future damage to the disc. With each injury, disc problems become more complicated, so prevention is important. To accomplish all this and meet your goals, your participation is crucial.

  • Pay attention to changing symptoms. If you feel that you are getting weak in your legs, let your doctor know. Also, any alteration in your bladder and bowel function should be immediately reported.
  • Use ice; not heat. Home ice treatments may be prescribed early in the course of treatment. Please place the ice on the location that the therapist has shown you for 20 minutes. You can use a cold gel pack or a doubled plastic bag full of ice and some water.
  • Be careful about your posture, closely following the doctor’s instructions. In general, when you sit, find a firm chair and sit up very straight. Avoid soft chairs and recliners. When you lie down, you may find it more comfortable to lie on your side with the painful side up.
  • Stay active. Your activity should be modified per your chiropractor’s instructions. It is important to not go on complete bed rest because it has been proven to prolong a back injury.
  • Stay positive. While disc injury is a major problem, you will probably improve well if you take the appropriate measures.

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