Herniated Disc

(Herniated Disc)

Pain that travels down the leg with or without lower back pain is usually the result of a pinched nerve (nerve compression) in the lower back. A common cause of nerve compression is a herniated disc. If you have been diagnosed with this problem you are likely frustrated with the medical solutions that have been offered. Perhaps you had a prescription for physical therapy where you were instructed to exercise your pain away. When this fails, injections of corticosteroids are usually recommended. You may have even felt some relief with the injections, but now your pain has returned. The next recommendation is often surgery and we all know what that means. While surgery may provide relief of leg symptoms, most back surgeries fail over time leaving those who elect this treatment with a life time of chronic back and leg pain. Maybe you have attempted and failed with any or all of these approaches and you’re wondering if you are doomed to a lifetime of pain. The truth is: you’re not!

Our Approach

In our office, care begins with a comprehensive case history and a thorough orthopedic, neurological and functional examination to pinpoint where your pain is coming from. If previous doctors have ordered imaging studies like x-rays or an MRI we will review these findings with you and provide an understandable explaination of what the studies tell us about your problem.  If additional studies are required to determine the exact cause of your pain we will order them.  Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, we will discuss your treatment options.

Pain management may begin with passive care and unique forms of physical medicine, massage and gentle chiropractic adjustments. In some cases, spinal decompression may be indicated to treat your herniated disc. Our center offers the best decompression equipment available, the DRX9000.

Back and leg pain can become a thing of the past with our non-invasive, drug free, non-surgical approach. Avoid the negative effects of pain medications, injections and surgery by visiting our center for rational and conservative management of your disc condition.

What Causes a Disc to Herniate?

There are 5 bones or vertebrae that make up the lumbar spine.  These vertebrae are separated from each other by the discs.  Each disc has a gel filled center called a nucleus and a tough outer ring called an annulus.  The disc acts as a cushion for the lumbar spine and creates a space between the vertebrae allowing for normal movement.  In separating the vertebrae, the disc creates a space for the lumbar nerves to exit from the spinal cord.

facet motion

Between the vertebrae there are two hinge joints called facet joints that allow for normal movement.

Trauma, either by over lifting, posture or repetitive motion strain the weight bearing facet joints resulting in an episode of lower back pain.  Most people recover from this pain in less than two weeks. However the mobility of the facet joints in the lower back can still be at risk leaving the person more vulnerable to a second episode of back pain.  Most low back pain sufferers have repeated episodes of pain resulting from bad mechanics in the facet joints (figure 1).  Over time bad mechanics gradually breaks down and dehydrates the disc tissue causing it to degenerate and herniate.

herniated nucleusThough the pain may begin spontaneously, disc herniations generally occur over time.  Prolonged mechanical stress causes dehydration of the disc tissue allowing the nucleus to break through and push out on the outer annulus.  Once the nucleus reaches the outer annulus it pushes on the nerve root causing pain and other symptoms in the lower back and down the leg (figure 2).  When a disc herniation occurs, lower back pain becomes a significant health problem and patients are given very few options other than surgery for treatment.

Symptoms associated with a herniated disc include back pain, radiating pain down the leg, numbness, and weakness.  Often times it hurts to cough, sneeze, laugh or even go to the bathroom.

In treating disc injuries, it is important to restore movement to the facet joints.  Restoring facet joint motion with gentle and specific chiropractic adjustments unloads the disc and reduces inflammation. In many cases we can help relieve pain and provide a healing environment for the disc with our conservative techniques. In some cases, spinal decompression is the best way to provide results. Graham Rehabilitation and Wellness Center is equipped with new, state of the art equipment that will decompress and rehydrate injured disc.  The DRX9000 has an astonishing success rate in treating disc herniations.  Please see the information on this web site about DRX9000 decompression.