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Posted on 07-14-2011

There are many terms that describe the condition known as the herniated disc. Some of the more common interchangeable terms are "slipped disc", "bulging disc", and "disc prolapse. All of these terms essentially mean the same thing. Chiropractors have been treating this condition since the first spinal manipulation was performed. In this article I would like to explain the specifics on how the herniated disc occurs, what problems it may cause, and how a chiropractor may be able to treat it.

First off lets talk about how a herniated disc occurs. To do this I must first describe the disc and its structure in a little detail. The intervertebral disc is a shock absorbing structure that sits between the bones of the spin (the vertebrae). It is made up of two parts. The outside portion of the disc can be best described as having an "onion" type of structure, with several concentric layers each surrounding each other as you move closer to the middle. This part of the disc is known anatomically as the annulus fibrosis. In the very center of the disc is the second portion, which is a jelly like sack. This portion is known as the nucleus pulposus. Together these two structures allow the spine a great deal of range of motion and also aid in cushioning the downward load that the spine must bear anytime a person is either sitting upright or standing. So how can these structures be compromised? The most common mechanism for herniating a disc in your back is by bending at the waist and twisting. These problems are exacerbated by natural misalignments in the spine that are the hallmark of what a chiropractor corrects through manipulation.

Now lets talk about the problems that herniated discs can cause. The most significant problem that herniated discs cause is known as sciatica. Sciatica is typically described as pain shooting down one or both of the legs. It may or may not be accompanied by numbness, tingling sensation, and in more sever cases weakness in the muscles of the lower extremities. The actual back pain that is attributed to herniated discs can range from none, to mild, to severe. Back pain is generally not a great indicator of a herniated disc.

So how may a chiropractor be able to help someone with a herniated disc? The fact is that a chiropractor may be the best professional to seek help from if you suspect that you may be suffering from a herniated disc. Chiropractors have years of training in diagnosining and treating lower back conditions including herniated discs. The first thing that a chiropractor will do is determine that it is actually a disc problem that is causing the problem. Many other conditions often mimic the symptoms of a herniated disc. Piriformis syndrome, spinal stenosis, disc degeneration, and many others may show the same symptoms as a herniated disc. Each of these conditions must either be ruled in or ruled out as possibilities before a chiropractor can choose the best course of treatment. A chiropractor does this through a thorough history as well as a neurological and an orthopedic examination. X-rays and or an MRI may also be necessary. If a herniated disc is indeed determined as the cause of the patient's problem then a chiropractor has many tools at his or her disposal to treat the condition. The most powerful tool that a chiropractor will use, however, is manipulation of the spine. Manipulation of the spine, otherwise known as the chiropractic "adjustment", does two things to positively affect the discs of the spine. The first thins that an adjustment does is it immediately relieved pressure on the disc. This release is generally indicated by the "pop" that is heard with the adjustment. Secondly the adjustment that a chiropractor performs correctly aligns the spinal vertebrae so that they can operate in their normal biomechanical way. Together with the adjustment, a chiropractor may also perform various types of physical therapy and or massage therapy to better speed along recovery.

In conclusion, chiropractors are more than capable of diagnosing and treating all conditions related to the spine. Chiropractors also have specific training on treating herniated discs.

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Chicago chiropractor, Dr. Matthew Nuesse founded Chicago Spine and Joint Care to bring pain relief to residents of downtown Chicago and Loop area workers. We take great pride in making every patient feel comfortable in our office and making you an informed part of your health care and future wellness.

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