You may have heard the term "slipped disc" used to describe a low back injury. Discs do not actually "slip". Rather, they may herniate or bulge out from between the bones. A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part or nucleus of the disc that is pushed through a tear in the outer layer or annulus of the disc. Pain results when irritating substances are released from this tear and also if the fragment touches or compresses a nearby nerve.
Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of disc herniation. Life style choices such as; smoking, lack of exercise and poor nutrition contribute to poor disc health. Poor posture, wear and tear, trauma, and incorrect lifting further stress the disc. However, for many, discs begin to bulge or herniate do to years of uncorrected subluxations. With the exception of sudden impacts or injuries, disc herniation and bulges are preventable through chiropractic care.
Herniated discs are most common among those aged 30 and 40. Although it is possible to have a disc herniation and not have any symptoms, the most common symptom will be pain that may radiate across the hips or into the buttocks. One can also experience numbness or pain radiating down the leg to the ankle or foot. If the herniation is large enough, one can even develop weakness within the leg or feet. In severe cases of lumbar disc herniation, you may experience changes in your bowel or bladder function and may have difficulty with sexual function.
Disc herniations respond very well to chiropractic care. Even advanced can be managed through chiropractic care. However, do to a chiropractors fast knowledge and understanding of the spine, they can determine if other conservative care such as often spinal decompression, massage therapy in conjunction with chiropractic care will help.
Occasionally, a herniation may be severe enough to warrant surgical intervention. These cases are usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of therapy have failed to relieve pain, or if there is significant compression of the spinal cord or nerves.