Between each pair of spine bones (or vertebrae) is a spongy disc that helps absorb shocks as we move and also promotes flexibility and movement in the spine. These discs comprise a tough outer shell called the annulus that surrounds a gel-like interior called the nucleus pulposus. Sometimes, one of these spongy discs can slip out of its normal position, irritating the nerves as they exit the spine. Herniated discs can also cause the surrounding tissues to become inflamed, resulting in additional nerve pain. When a herniated disc is severely pinched, it can rupture and some of the gel-like internal material can leak out, causing more irritation and inflammation.
Herniated discs are often caused by overuse or repetitive use, including bending and lifting, that cause the spine to become misaligned, resulting in displacement of the disc. Traumatic injuries, spine-related diseases, conditions like spondylolisthesis and lifestyle habits of prolonged sitting or standing can also cause herniated discs. People who are obese or pregnant are also at greater risk of developing a herniated disc.
Herniated discs can cause local pain and ache, as well as radiating pain, numbness, and weakness anywhere along the path of the nerve that’s being compressed by the disc. Herniated discs in the upper spine and neck can cause chronic headaches.
The key to treating a herniated disc is to coax the disc back into its normal position so inflammation and nerve irritation are relieved. Spinal adjustments and manual therapy gently widen spaces between the vertebrae so the disc can return to its proper position. Therapeutic exercises can be very useful in promoting natural healing and balancing strains on the spine so herniation can be avoided in the future.
Most patients respond well to chiropractic treatment, requiring a few treatment sessions to relieve acute symptoms. Ongoing chiropractic care including lifestyle guidance can help prevent herniated discs from recurring.
Dr. Salvatore accepts the following insurances and several more. If you do not see your insurance listed here, please contact our office and we will be happy to assist you.