Finding out you have a herniated disc can be quite upsetting. The pain caused by this condition can be significant. And treating the condition can be challenging. Doctors may recommend pain management – even chiropractors may tell you they can’t do anything for you and that you need to participate in a pain management program. But you may not want to take prescription drugs unless absolutely necessary. The question is, do you have any other options?
Depending on who gave you your diagnosis, you may or may not be aware of what a herniated disc actually is. In case you don’t know, here is a brief explanation.
The discs that sit between your vertebrae are made up of a tough outer layer with a soft, gel-like inner layer. When some of the soft inner layer pushes out through the outer layer, it is referred to as a herniated disc. Sometimes, a herniated disc will not lead to any symptoms. But other times, the protrusion from the disc may press up against nerves in the spine – which can lead to serious pain and ongoing discomfort.
Some chiropractors choose not to treat herniated discs so they will send patients to doctors who can get them into pain management programs. This may or may not be the right decision. It all depends on what the MRI shows.
We asked Dr. Jeff, the head of Integrated Spine & Disc, how he handles herniated discs depending on what the MRI shows. Here is a summary of what he said.
If the disc is compressing a nerve or the spinal cord, it may be possible to treat the issue with conservative chiropractic care. However, depending on what the details show on the MRI, pain management under the care of a neurologist or orthopaedist could be the correct path and in some cases conservative care with a chiropractor might also be helpful.
If the disc is not compressing the nerve, and there are no neurological indicators, we would prescribe the specific treatment type for the particular spinal segment of herniation, like the ELDOA Method, and of course look at the rest of the spine as to how the posture is contributing to the disc issue.
Can there be a combination of treatments that include chiropractic and medical care?
Yes, definitely. For example, if you have a disc extrusion (a more severe form of disc herniation) new research indicates epidural steroid injections can potentially help reduce the disc bulge. However, conservative treatment to rehabilitate the spine (the reason you typically have the extrusion in the first place) is still indicated.
Most chiropractors give up when they see a large disc herniation but that is the area where ISD shines. Having an experienced clinician who knows how to read the MRI, knows when to refer out, and when indicated has the experience to treat it makes all the difference in the long-term outcome of the patient.
If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc or you are just suffering from back pain, we encourage you to contact us for an appointment. We are here to answer your questions and help you get relief from your pain.