Get a quote

Get a free quote now.

Thank you! Your message has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
April 30, 2024

Should you see a Chiropractor for a Herniated Disc?

Should you see a Chiropractor for a Herniated Disc?

What Is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is a common medical condition affecting more than 3 million people each year. A herniated disc occurs when the soft center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the tougher exterior casing. This irritates the nearby nerves and causes pain, numbness, or weakness down the arms or legs. 

What are the Symptoms and Diagnosis Process of a Herniated Disc?

Symptoms of a herniated disc include: 

  • Constant, dull pain in the neck or lower back
  • Sharp pain or numbness in one of the extremities
    • A herniated disc in the lumbar spine may cause pain in the buttock, hamstring, back of the calf, or sole of the foot. It may also cause numbness down the back of the leg and into the toes
    • A herniated disc in the cervical spine may cause pain that moves to the upper arm, forearm, and fingers. It may also cause numbness along your shoulder, elbow, forearm, and fingers 
  • The pain often feels worse after standing, sitting, at night, when sneezing, coughing, or laughing, when bending forward, or when walking more than a few yards

Diagnosis process of a herniated disc:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): The most common and accurate imaging test for a suspected herniated disc
  • X-rays: X-rays help to rule out other causes of back or neck pain
  • Computed tomography (CT): A CT scan can show the bones of your spine, if the herniated disc moves into the space around your spinal cord it will be shown 
  • Myelogram: This involves injecting dye into your spine using X-ray guidance for a CT scan. The dye can reveal a narrowing of the spinal canal and the location of your herniated disc
  • Electromyogram (EMG): This test involves placing small needles into various muscles and evaluating the function of your nerves. An EMG helps determine which nerve a herniated disc is affecting 

How do you get a Herniated Disc?

Most people can’t identify the cause of their herniated disc. It is often the result of aging-related wear and tear, called disc degeneration. Discs become less flexible and more prone to tearing with strains or twists as they age. Other causes of a herniated disc could be from lifting heavy objects, or twisting and turning while lifting. 

Some of the risk factors for herniated discs include being overweight, having a physically demanding job, genetics, smoking, frequent driving, or being sedentary. 

What are the Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs most often heal themselves over time. Very rarely is surgery needed. Treatments to manage the pain include medicine, physical therapy, chiropractic care, and modifying activity levels. 

Dr. CJ Epstein from Team Elite Chiropractic says: “When it comes to herniated discs I considered physical therapy, chiropractic care, and acupuncture the front-line treatment options. Next would be getting steroid injections or taking pain medications, the last option in extreme cases would be surgery.” 

Should you seek Chiropractic Care for a Herniated Disc?

Yes, chiropractic care helps get patients out of pain in the short term. On-going treatment for maintenance to ensure it doesn’t happen again is also critical. Once patients have experienced a herniated disc, they increase their chances of experiencing it again. 

Dr. CJ Epstein from Team Elite Chiropractic says: “Typically a herniated disc has 4 stages to recovery: acute (weeks 1-2), gradual improvement (weeks 2- 6), plateau and stabilizations (weeks 6-12), and long-term management (after 12 weeks). For the first 2 weeks, I like to see patients 2-3 times per week and work on reducing the pain. For the next 2-4 weeks I’ll want to see patients 1-2 times per week. After 6 weeks we can taper off to once per week or bi-weekly. After 12 weeks I’d recommend monthly maintenance appointments and at-home exercises.”

What Treatment Options Should Chiropractors use on a Herniated Disc?

The treatment options for patients with herniated discs vary based on pain level. Doing adjustments isn’t inherently bad for herniated discs, but if a patient is in too much pain that may not be the best treatment course. 

“At Team Elite we have a variety of tools to support patients with herniated discs. We’d likely do a lot of extension-based exercises, like the cobra and cow pose. We’d also implement laser therapy to help reduce pain and inflammation, and soft tissue techniques, such as cupping, to help bring blood flow to the area and reduce muscle tightness.” - Dr. CJ Epstein 

What Treatments Should be Avoided with a Herniated Disc?

During the acute disc herniation phase, patients should avoid any lumbar flexion, anything that’s flexing the spine forward. This will increase pain and irritation and should be avoided as much as possible during the first few weeks of injury. Herniated discs and the treatment plan should be managed and monitored closely by healthcare professionals. 

If you are experiencing back pain or a potential herniated disc, book your appointment with Team Elite today. 

Office In
Scripps Ranch

Fitness Quest 10
9972 Scripps Ranch Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92131

view on map
Office In

Broadway Athletic Club
501 West Broadway
San Diego, CA 92101

view on map
Office In
La Jolla

7710 Fay Ave
La Jolla, CA 92037

view on map