According to experts, at least a quarter of the adult population will experience ruptured or herniated discs in their lifetime. The current lifestyle makes people prone to ailments of the musculoskeletal system and one of the most common is the ruptured discs.
This condition can become a chronic problem. People often feel the symptoms when it has already progressed. Over time, the pain becomes unbearable and it already affects your daily life. Chronic pain can also cause various health issues if left unmanaged. Though there are several treatment options, severe cases may require surgery to address the growing pain that ruptured discs can bring. Don’t let this condition steal your health. Find out how you can take back your life from this condition with chiropractic treatment and a holistic approach to wellness.
What is a Ruptured Discs?
Ruptured or herniated discs is a painful health problem that involves the rubbery cushions (discs) that are placed between each vertebrae that make up your spine.
Each of these spinal discs has a jellylike, soft nucleus inside a tougher rubbery exterior. Sometimes, the condition is also called herniated or slipped disc. It occurs when the soft and jellylike nucleus bulges out through a tear in the rubbery exterior. It can happen at any point of the spine and start irritating the nerves in the area. Depending on the location of the rupture, you can experience numbness, pain or weakness of the arms or legs.
Some people also have no symptoms despite having this condition. And unless there is a serious case of chronic pain and suffering, surgery is usually not the option to relieve the condition.
How Ruptured Disc Affects Our Lives
A ruptured disc can bring in a lot of symptoms for some while others may not even know about. If it ruptures backward, it can place pressure on the spine and the nerves around it. This leads to pain, muscle spasms and other symptoms. The pain can be a shooting, sharp pain that will stop you from your daily tasks. Chronic pain can make life and health challenging. It will stop you from walking, working and sleeping.
In many cases of rupture discs, it always happens in the lower back. But it can also happen in the neck and mid-back portion. Depending on the affected discs, the signs and symptoms experienced varies. Usually, these are felt on one side of the body.
Pain in the Arm or Leg – ruptured discs in the lower back normally have signs that involve severe pain in the buttocks, thigh and lower legs. The pain may also be felt in the foot. If the affected disc is located in the neck, the pain is mostly felt in the arm and shoulders. The pain is often described as burning or shooting pain, and it is strongly felt when you sneeze, cough or move into specific positions.
Tingling and Numbness – another common symptom felt by people affected by a herniated disc is a radiating tingling sensation or numbness in specific body parts such as legs and arms
Weakness – ruptured discs affect the nerves in nearby areas, and because of that, the that they serve are also affected. Some people feel weakened control of their body parts which can cause limping, stumbling or the inability to lift or hold items.
Some people are fortunate to be asymptomatic despite having herniated discs. These few people only discover their condition after undergoing a spinal imaging test.
Causes of Ruptured Discs
Disc rupture is usually due to a gradual, aging-related degeneration of the discs. As a person ages, the discs become less flexible and become prone to tearing even with a slight twist or strain.
In many cases, the real cause of ruptured discs are not determined. However, some practices, such as poor posture and improper use of back muscles can lead to this condition. For instance, using back muscles instead of leg or thigh muscles to lift a heavy load can lead to rupture. In the same way, turning and twisting while lifting is also a culprit. More so, traumatic events such as blow or falls rarely causes this condition.
Are some people more at risk of having herniated or ruptured discs? Here are some factors that increase your risks of having this condition.
- Occupation – physically demanding jobs with repetitive pulling, lifting, pushing, twisting and bending sideways often increase risk for disc rupture.
- Weight – people with excessive weight puts on extra stress on the lower spine and on the discs.
- Genetics – there are people who are already predisposed to this condition because of their genetics.
- Smoking – smoking reduces the supply of oxygen to the spine and discs, thus it ages more quickly and becomes more vulnerable to tears and breakage.
Complications That Comes with a Ruptured Disc
In severe cases, a ruptured disc can compress the spinal canal and pinch the nerves of the cauda equina – the edge of the spinal cord. If this happens, there is a threat of permanent paralysis or weakness, thus emergency surgery might be considered.
Treatment Options Available
There are several treatment options available to relieve the pain and manage the symptoms that come with ruptured discs. These includes consdervative treatments, therapy and surgery.
- Conservative treatments – involve activity modifications to prevent movements that cause symptoms. It also includes taking medications to relieve pain and symptoms. There are several medications that doctors may prescribe to help you manage the pain and symptoms.
- Medications – You may have over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen. There are also cortisone injections that are recommended when oral medications are no longer effective. Injections will be applied directly into the spine with the help of imaging. Muscle relaxers and opioids may also be prescribed to manage symptoms.
- Therapy – some patients are referred to a physical therapist to help in managing pain through various exercises and correct positions.
- Surgery – surgery may be recommended if the symptoms do not improve after trying on conservative treatments. If a patient continues to experience numbness, weakness, pain, difficulty in walking or standing and loss of bowel and bladder control.
Surgery in ruptured discs involves the removal of the protruding portion of the disk. In case the entire discs needs to be removed, it may require fusing with a bone graft. This can take months of recovery and a metal hardware will be placed in the spine for stability.
Alternative Options for Managing Rupture Discs Symptoms
Complementary and alternative treatments are very helpful in easing pain and symptoms associated with herniated or ruptured disc.
- Acupuncture – this ancient treatment practice shows significant results in easing chronic back and neck pain.
- Massage – it can help manage chronic back pain and provide short-term relief to the symptoms.
- Chiropractic Treatment – spinal manipulation shows significant effects in reducing chronic back pain that has lasted for several months. Chiropractors use various techniques to help patients manage their painful conditions.
Chiropractic Techniques Used for Managing Ruptured Discs Pain
Chiropractors are trained to conduct spinal manipulations to correct the alignment and balance the body. Some of the chiropractic treatment and techniques that they can use to provide relief for your condition include the following:
- Flexion- Distraction Technique – it involves the use of a specialized platform to gently “distract” and stretch the spine. Chiropractors can safely isolate affected areas while they continue to flex the spine with measured pumping rhythm. It can move the disc from the nearby nerves thus, inflammation is reduced. Eventually, with continued treatment, the pain and symptoms felt will improve.
- Manipulation Under Anesthesia – this technique is often applied for chiropractic treatment of spinal conditions. It is typically conducted at a hospital or ambulatory care center. Patients are placed in a relaxed “twilight” sleep for about six minutes. During this period, chiropractors stretch and manipulate the spinal area.
- Pelvic Blocking Technique – this involves the use of cushioned wedges and gentle exercises. It will change the position of your spine while your disc is drawn away from the nerve.
Misconceptions about Chiropractic Treatments for Ruptured Disc
Many people believe that chiropractic treatment for ruptured discs involves the “popping back” of the disc in place. There are popping sounds while they perform adjustments because gases are released under pressure in a joint.
More so, some patients think that after a few quick visits and manipulations, the ruptured disc is already treated. Chiropractic care for such conditions involve low-force techniques and a holistic approach to wellness.
Ruptured discs is a common condition that affects many people in various age groups. However it is more prevalent in adults and elderly. There are several conditions that make a person more at risk of developing a herniated disc such as working conditions, weight and lifestyle habits. The pain associated with this ailment is a gradual pain that becomes unbearable and chronic.
Chiropractic treatment is a safe and alternative option if you want to avoid medications and invasive surgery. Call us at and we’ll help you plan your overall health and wellness.