If you do a web search for “chiropractors and slipped disc pain,” you’ll come across a lot of information about how Doctors of Chiropractic Medicine, also called chiropractors, help patients with pain due to slipped discs. They generally do so by performing drug-free, non-surgical chiropractic adjustments of the spine. They believe that adjusting or realigning the spine provides lasting pain relief by regulating musculoskeletal and nervous system functions.
Chiropractors and Slipped Disc Pain
According to the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), chiropractors offer services to treat back pain, neck pain, headaches and other types of pain linked to musculoskeletal and nervous system disorders. In short, chiropractors treat patients with pain conditions.
Although the ACA refers to their work as “treatment,” some people tend to think that because chiropractors are not medical doctors, they merely help patients with pain management. But they are usually educated, trained, certified, and licensed to deliver chiropractic care. Regardless, patients with slipped discs have experienced pain relief through non-invasive spinal adjustment or manipulation.
What are Slipped Discs?
“Slipped discs,” “bulging discs,” and “ruptured discs” are terms used to describe herniation of the intervertebral discs. These are the cushiony material located in the space between each of the vertebrae that make up the spine. They act as shock absorbers for these bones. Accident injuries, sports injuries, falls, improper lifting technique, poor posture, and degenerative disc disease can result in a spinal misalignment (vertebral subluxations) that puts pressure on the discs. This damages the discs or squeezes and pushes them out of position.
Slipped Disc Pain – Common Symptoms
A dull or sharp pain at the site of the ruptured disc and sciatica are two common symptoms. Sciatica is nerve pain that occurs when the slipped disc pinches or compresses the nerve roots in the lower back. The primary symptom is lower back pain which may radiate to the hip, buttock, or leg. Numbness, tingling, and weakness may also occur in these areas.
Although disc herniation occurs most often in the lumbar spine, it could also happen in the cervical (neck) segment of the spine. Cervical slipped discs may result in sharp pain in the neck that radiates to the shoulder blades, arm, or hand. Numbness or tingling in the arm, hand, or fingers is also common.
How Chiropractors Treat Slipped Disc Pain
In general, a chiropractor can help people with slipped disc pain by performing these three popular techniques:
1. Spinal Adjustments
This technique, also called spinal manipulation, can be done with the hands or using small instruments, e.g., the Activator Method. The application of gentle, controlled force adjusts the spinal joints and bones and return them to their natural position. This takes the pressure off the discs, triggers an influx of blood and nutrient flow to the spine, and helps to heal the damaged discs.
2. Spinal Decompression
Sciatic nerve pain due to ruptured discs can also be treated with spinal decompression. Here, the chiropractor uses motorized traction or the Flexion-Distraction technique to gently stretch the spine. This increases the space between the vertebrae and allows protruding disc material to pull back into position and heal. Decompressing the spine can also release the impinged sciatic nerve, reduce inflammation, and relieve the pain.
3. Pelvic Blocking Technique
Cushioned wedges are placed under each side of the pelvis while you lay on a flat surface. Doing this changes your posture and helps take the pressure off the spine, discs, and nerves that are causing you pain.
It is important to note that chiropractic care for slipped disc pain may not be right for everyone. Your chiropractor will perform a physical exam and a series of tests, including X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs, to diagnose this condition and determine if to treat you.