By Dr Morgan Kinnear, DC
Disc herniations occur when there is a disruption in the outer layer of an intervertebral disc (the annulus fibrosis), causing the inner jelly-like material (the nucleus pulposus) to become displaced. The most common direction for this material to move is posterolaterally (angled back and to the side), which can exert pressure on the nerve roots exiting the spinal column. This often results in symptoms such as back and neck pain, radiating pain down the arms or legs, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, and weakness of the extremities.
Most commonly, these injuries occur as a result of loaded flexion with rotation. An example of this movement may be lifting something heavy from the floor to the counter while twisting. This condition is seen most commonly in men between the ages of 30 and 55.
While the symptoms of a disc herniation may feel debilitating, the natural progression of the condition is quite good. The numbers vary slightly depending on the source, but research shows that upwards of 85% of symptomatic disc herniations will spontaneously resolve within 6-8 weeks. The good news: your herniated disc is most likely not a life sentence!
Given the positive natural progression of the condition, trying conservative management options first is often the best initial treatment. Chiropractic care is one form of conservative management that is well suited to treating disc herniations. Treatment would most likely consist of a combination of spinal mobilization/manipulation, focused therapeutic exercises designed to
improve core strength and stability, as well as activity modification recommendations tailored to your unique situation. More invasive treatment options may be explored in cases of severe nerve compression, or after an initial trial of conservative management.
Call (360) 787-3615 to schedule your free phone consultation with our Chiropractor, Dr. Morgan Kinnear.