Did you know you might have a herniated disc without even knowing it?
Before we understand what a herniated disc even is, though, let’s take a moment to look at your spine. Your spine is made up of individual bones – vertebrae – with rubbery cushions – discs – between the bones.
The discs in your spine have a hard exterior that surrounds a soft center. So if that tough exterior gets a small crack and the soft stuff in the center pushes out, you have a herniated disc – also referred to as a “slipped disc” or “ruptured disc.”
Herniated discs are common as you age and your discs gradually start to degenerate. While it might be difficult to determine the exact cause of why you have a herniated disc, turning or twisting while lifting a heavy item or using your back instead of your legs could possibly cause problems.
Most herniated discs tend to occur in your lumbar spine – your lower back – or your cervical spine – your neck.
So how can you tell if you have a herniated disc? It’s not always easy. Many people might not even realize there’s something wrong with their spine because they don’t have any symptoms.
But this doesn’t mean that there are no symptoms. Typically, if you are worried you might have a herniated disc, you should watch out for:
- Muscle weakness. The nerves surrounding your herniated disc can potentially cause muscle weakness. For this reason, you need to be careful because you might end up stumbling, or have difficulty holding or lifting things.
- Tingling or numbness. The nerves surrounding your herniated disc can also cause tingling or numbness in the body parts that those nerves send signals to.
- Leg pain. If your lower back has a herniated disc, you could feel pain in your leg, thigh, calf, buttocks, and possibly your foot. If you have a sudden movement such as a cough or sneeze, you may feel that pain intensify and shoot into your leg.
- Arm pain. If your neck has a herniated disc, you could feel pain in your arm or shoulder. The pain may also shoot into your arm and intensify if you cough, sneeze, or experience some other unexpected movement.
Herniated Disc Treatment
One of the most common treatments for a herniated disc is flexion distraction therapy. The goal of this technique is to increase your spinal motion, which, in turn, can help your disc herniation with natural healing of the spine.
So how does it work?
A chiropractor has a special table with movable parts that gives support to a patient’s head and legs while allowing the spine to flex in different directions. The chiropractor will then apply pressure to key areas around the herniated disc to stretch the area, decrease inflammation, and increase nerve function.
Some people experience immediate pain relief after attempting flexion distraction therapy, whereas others might need a few sessions to see signs of improvement.
Benefits of Flexion Distraction Therapy
Chiropractors use flexion distraction therapy because it’s non-surgical, safe, gentle, and has a ton of benefits for patients. Some of those benefits include:
Less pain. If you have a low tolerance for pain, flexion distraction therapy will be a good choice for you. Not only is the technique painless, it will also help relieve any pain your herniated disc may be causing.
Increased range of motion. By manipulating and adjusting the spine, you are also improving your range of motion in the muscles and joints in your arms, shoulders, feet, and toes.
Improved circulation. Applying pressure to the back and surrounding areas of the spine improves the blood flow and circulation.
Reduced pressure. The whole goal of this therapy is to reduce pressure on your herniated disc, and after just one session, you may see a noticeable difference.
Improved posture. A herniated disc or any back pain can cause a person to slump and have bad posture. This therapy is designed to help your posture.
Non-invasiveness. Some people think surgery is the only answer for certain conditions. But if you can fix a herniated disc without surgery, wouldn’t you rather try that first? Flexion distraction therapy is an easy and non-surgical way to relieve your spinal issues.
While those are some of the most talked about benefits, there are also others, such as:
- Decreasing headaches or migraines
- Increasing nerve function
- Reduction of back pain in pregnant women
- Potentially helping with strokes, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and other neurological disorders
- Reducing sciatica symptoms
- Decreasing the effects of whiplash or other back, neck, and shoulder pain
If you are experiencing a herniated disc or even some overall pain, ask a chiropractor if flexion distraction therapy might be right for you.