08 Jan

What is a Herniated Disc?

The most common cause of visits to the doctor each year is back pain.  It affects as many as 60% of us here in the U.S.  and costs over $80 billion in annual healthcare costs.  It can range from mildly irritating to downright crippling, and can affect nearly every aspect of our lives.

Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most least understood conditions.  While some types of back pain may resolve themselves within 2-3 weeks, many types need some form of consistent medical care.  As with virtually every other type of dysfunction in our body, it’s crucial to understand the root cause of the condition.  For example, when low back pain is caused by an injury where muscles and the spinal column undergo some type of trauma, is it logical to think that taking painkillers will cure the problem?

Let’s take a look at one of the most common kinds of back conditions:  the herniated or “slipped disc”.

First, a quick review of the anatomy:  With the exception of the top 2 vertebrae in the neck, there is a disc located between every vertebra of your spine.  These discs act like a shock absorber and provide flexibility to our spinal column.  Without these discs, we’d literally be stiff as a board.  Any movement or function would be impossible.

These discs have 2 layers to them.  A tough outer layer, and a soft, gel-like inner layer.  When the outer layer is weakened from various causes, the softer, inner layer may tend to “bulge out”.  This is where  term “bulging ” or “slipped” disc come from.  This bulging, or herniated disc, can then put pressure on the nearby nerves and can cause a great deal of pain and loss of function in the muscles innervated by the nerves near the affected disc.

This is a perfect example of why it’s vital to understand the cause of a condition in order to achieve a complete recovery.  Chiropractors have been specifically trained to do a thorough examination of not just the painful area, but the complete spine.  These exams include muscle and neurological tests, strength tests and MRI’s or X-rays if necessary.  They do this to get an idea of how the entire spine is functioning, because what happens in one area of the spine can affect another area of your body.  Understanding the whole picture makes a complete recovery more likely.

There is no “cookie-cutter” treatment for back pain.  Once your Chiropractor has a complete picture of your condition, he or she can recommend a treatment protocol that’s unique to your needs.  These treatments may involve gentle, low-force spinal adjustments which will re-align the spine and take pressure off the discs.  There may also be other manual therapies and therapeutic exercises to help strengthen the weakened area to make it less prone to re-injury.

Back pain doesn’t have to slow you down.  It’s truly amazing at how good you can feel when your spine is properly aligned and balanced, which allows you to live life to the fullest!

Text Us Today to schedule an appointment. Seattle 206.726.9595 Bellevue: 425.688.0223 Everett: 425-355-5222

Dr. Anita LeBlanc
Doctor of Chiropractic
Vida Integrated Health Bellevue

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