?The spine is made up of three main parts: the spinal column (bones and discs), neural
elements (the spinal cord and nerve roots), and supporting structures (muscles and
ligaments). Starting in the mid to late twenties, spine wear and tear starts to develop.
The elasticity of the spine often degenerates as you age and may cause a rupture of the
disc, called a herniated disc. When the disc ruptures, either from aging or by a sudden
trauma, the herniated disc can press against the spinal cord causing tingling,
numbness, electric-shock pain, muscle weakness or even bladder control problems.
This is due to a herniated disc pressing on the nerves of the back and spine.
Only a physical examination of the back and spine can diagnose a herniated disc.
Many times a MRI or x-rays will be used to help diagnose a herniated disc or the
extent of the damage. Treatment plans for herniated discs range depending on the
extent of the damage, the age of the person, the person's physical symptoms, and a
person's physical activity level. Usually, treatment begins conservatively and becomes
more aggressive when treatment does not seem to help or if the symptoms worsen.
The first and most common treatment for a herniated disc is rest. Resting the back and
spine muscles allows the inflammation to go down and relieves the pressure. Over the
counter non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) also are used to
reduce the swelling around the herniated disc. If over the counter medications don't
help, then oral steroids, narcotic pain medication, or epidural steroids injections
(injections into the spine) may be used.
If you decide to use narcotic pain medication or steroids, discuss the potential risks
and side effects with your doctor. Narcotic pain medication can become habit forming
if used for long periods of time. Sometimes, drug seeking behavior known as
addiction occurs. Long term steroid use can lead to weight gain, an increased risk of
infection and longer healing times.
It is not uncommon for patients to receive physical therapy or physical therapy in
conjunction with spinal manipulation. Physical therapy strengthens the back muscles
supporting the spine. It also promotes flexibility, preventing further injury. Spinal
manipulation, performed by a licensed chiropractor, aligns the discs in the spine. By
properly aligning the discs, the pressure is taken off the nerve and the inflammation is
Progressive Rehabilitation combines chiropractic treatment with rehabilitation therapy.
This combination of chiropractic technology and progressive rehabilitation
technology often leads to fast stabilization and pain relief. Progressive rehabilitation
can include cold laser therapy and spinal decompression which have been shown to
provide long-term nonsurgical pain relief. Cold laser therapy uses low intensity laser
light. This should not be confused with traditional laser surgery. Cold laser therapy is
a non-surgical procedure which reduces inflammation and pain. Spinal decompression
is also a non-surgical alternative to herniated disc pain. Spinal compression puts
pressure on the surrounding nerves causing irritation and pain. Spinal decompression
takes the pressure off the herniated disc by slowly stretching the spine.