Back pain is one of the most common reasons for patients to visit the chiropractor. It can range from mild discomfort from a pulled muscle or something more serious. Sometimes back pain is a result of a herniated disc.
Herniated discs occur when parts of the spine stop working properly. Back pain can interfere with all parts of your life since you use your back everything. The pain associated with herniated discs is often debilitating until proper treatment is found.
What Are Herniated Discs?
Herniated discs go by many names: slipped disc, bulging disc, collapsed disc or pinched nerve. Doctors tend to disagree on their precise definitions so the trends are often used interchangeably. Regardless, they are all associated with problems in a specific part of the spine, the disc.
Between each vertebra is a stiff rubber-like disc that acts as a shock absorber. They let your spine bend and flex. These discs are kind of like a jelly donut, with a soft center and tough exterior. Sometimes the tough exterior gets damaged, causing the soft interior to leak out. Herniated discs refer to that kind of tear in the discs.
A herniated disc pushes material up against the nearby nerves causing radicular pain. Radicular pain is nerve pain that radiates from one part of the body to another. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may push against the nerves that lead to your legs. In that case, you’d feel burning, tingling, and numbness in your glute, calf, or foot.
Sometimes the disc itself is irritated. This is called degenerative disc disease. You would likely feel localized pain called axial pain. Moving makes axial pain feel worse, resting makes axial pain feel better.
A herniated disc can happen anywhere along the spine but they’re most common in the lower back. This is because the lower back bears the most wear and tear throughout your life.
The Causes of Herniated Discs
Three factors lead to herniated discs – repetitive motion, poor posture, and age.
Repetitive stress on the spine from manual labor, excessive twisting, or running can lead to herniated discs. This is why herniated discs are common in athletes and those who work in manual labor.
Poor posture affects disc health as well because it poorly aligns the spine. This puts undue stress on your back. Using good posture while driving and working is very important to preventing herniated discs.
Age-related degeneration commonly causes herniated discs. The discs dry and crack with age and can no longer support the spine.
The Treatment of Herniated Discs
A chiropractor will perform a physical exam and imaging to determine if you suffer from a herniated disc. He or she will then prescribe a course of adjustments or decompression to relieve pain and restore mobility.
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