Also known as a slipped disk or ruptured disk, this injury to the lower spine is a common cause for back and leg pain. Intervertebral disks are small, round cushions that act as shock absorbers between the individual vertebra making up the spinal column.
The intervertebral disks have a gel-like center surrounded by a tough exterior. Pressure in parts of your spine may push part of the center of the disk outside through a weakened portion of its exterior – like jelly from a donut. The result is a herniated disk that presses on nearby nerves and causes pain.
Flat, round cushions absorb shock between your vertebrae
Pressure in the spine causes herniated disks
Herniated disks irritate the spinal nerves and cause pain
If you help a friend move and do some heavy lifting and twisting, you may later experience numbness or shooting pain. These symptoms may decrease in severity over time but can sometimes be a factor of chronic back pain.
Chiropractic care offers non-invasive pain management for the aches and pains a herniated disk causes your back, neck, arms, and legs.
What does a herniated disk feel like?
Many people who experience a slipped disk do not experience pain symptoms. It can often start small and then gradually increase in pain. This injury is most common in the lower back or lumbar spine, but can also occur in the middle back and the neck or cervical spine.
Those who do experience pain from a ruptured disk report:
Neck pain or shoulder pain
Muscle spasms or weakness
Radiating pain to the shoulder, arm, hands, or fingers
Tingling or numbness in the legs and feet
Radiating pain to the buttocks, legs, and feet (also known as sciatica)
When painful symptoms begin, many people rely on medications that do not treat the source of the problem. Chiropractic care is the safest and most effective method for treating a herniated disk. A common misunderstanding is that a chiropractic adjustment aggravates a herniated disk. This is not the case.
By gently adjusting the affected vertebrae, and correcting spinal alignment, the herniated disk can return to a position where it does not press against spinal nerves.
Routine chiropractic care helps you:
Maintain correct alignment
Reduce the risk of future disk damage
Promote overall health
What to expect from chiropractic treatment
When you see a chiropractor for the first time, you will receive a physical exam and complete medical history so that your chiropractic adjustment can be customized to fit your health. Chiropractic care treats your spinal misalignment, the herniated disk, and any associated nerve interference.
Your doctor of chiropractic uses spinal adjustments and other techniques to get to the source of your pain and treats it in a natural, drug-free way. Your treatment plan is personalized to fit your health, lifestyle, and pain levels.
When should you have back surgery for a herniated disk?
In some situations, medical advice may encourage surgery to treat a herniated disk. We strongly advocate pursuing a non-invasive treatment option like chiropractic care or physical therapy before resorting to surgery.
Doctors usually recommend conservative measures of treatment first. This makes chiropractic care the optimal first stop for your pain relief. Most cases will resolve with conservative treatment measures.
How do you know if you have a herniated disk?
Herniated disks are very common and occur mostly in people aged 30-50. This injury is twice as likely to affect men as it is women (Source). You may have a herniated disk and experience no pain.
Aging and degeneration weaken the intervertebral disks over time. It's possible for a strain, like heavy lifting or even a sneeze, to cause a sharp, sudden pain in your back. If left untreated, a herniated disk can progress into chronic back pain or sciatica.
If you feel a sharp pain or a radiating pain, a herniated disk could be responsible.