Life Chiropractic Blog

Spinal Disc Problems

Mar 15, 2024 | Chiropractic Care

Back pain is one of the most common health complaints in the US. In fact, 80 percent of American adults will experience back pain at some point in their lives. Sometimes, these aches and pains stem from spinal disc problems. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for these conditions can help you start living life to the fullest once more.

What is a Spinal Disc?

The spine is a complex structure that provides support and flexibility to the rest of your body. While sometimes called the “backbone,” your spine actually consists of 24 separate vertebrae, with spinal discs nestled between each one. These rubbery pads act as shock absorbers, preventing the bones from rubbing against each other and causing pain. Disc problems in the back can occur when these cushioning pads wear out or become damaged.

Symptoms of Spinal Disc Problems

A “slipped disc” is one common disc complaint. This colloquial term is often used to describe either a bulging disc or a herniated disc.

A bulging disc is when a disc starts to protrude, or “bulge out,” from its normal location in the spine. Similarly, a herniated disc is when a bulging disc ruptures, and the soft, jelly-like center pushes through a tear in the disc’s tough outer ring.

Both conditions can pinch the surrounding nerves running through the spine. Sometimes, this causes no symptoms. Other times, you may experience one or more of the following:

  • Back pain or neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling, often radiating to the extremities
  • Muscle weakness
  • Pain that worsens at night or during certain activities
  • Pain that spreads over the buttocks, down the back of one thigh, and into the calf (this describes sciatica caused by a herniated disc in the lower spine)
  • Unexpected muscle spasms

Is Chiropractic Treatment Effective for Disc Problems?

While severe spinal disc problems might require surgical intervention, many disc complaints can be effectively managed with conservative treatment, including chiropractic care. A disc chiropractor’s goal is to restore normal function and prevent future injury while alleviating pain.

To identify the root cause and provide targeted back pain treatment, your chiropractor will begin by thoroughly examining your spine. This may involve various tests to check your reflexes, range of motion, muscle strength, and sensation in your extremities. X-rays may also be taken to better assess your spinal health.

Chiropractic adjustments are suitable for most people with disc problems, barring any serious health conditions. Furthermore, chiropractic care has a low risk of side effects, usually limited to temporary discomfort or soreness in the treatment area.

Chiropractic Techniques for Addressing Disc Problems

Chiropractors employ several techniques to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by slipped discs and other spinal problems. Your ideal treatment plan depends on your specific condition, overall health, and comfort level. Always consult a professional to determine the best course of action.

Some popular chiropractic techniques for addressing disc problems include:

  • Activator method: This gentle, low-force approach utilizes a small handheld tool called the Activator Adjusting Instrument to deliver a gentle impulse force to the spine to restore motion to the targeted spinal vertebra or joint. This technique is often used as an alternative to traditional spinal manipulation.
  • Gonstead adjustment: This method, named after its inventor, Dr. Clarence Gonstead, is known for its precision and effectiveness in addressing disc issues, reducing pain, and restoring normal alignment and mobility. It involves making precise, hands-on adjustments to the problem area after conducting a comprehensive spinal analysis.
  • Flexion-distraction treatment: This gentle, non-thrusting technique is ideal for addressing herniated discs. It involves a specialized table that stretches and flexes your spine, alleviating nerve pressure and increasing spinal motion. In this way, flexion-distraction treatment reduces back pain and allows the body’s natural healing processes to kick in.
  • Spinal decompression: In this technique, a motorized device or traction table gently stretches the spine to create negative pressure within the bulging or herniated disc. The goal is to force the disc to retract, relieving pressure on the surrounding nerves and promoting the delivery of water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids to facilitate healing.
  • Non-surgical spinal traction: Your chiropractor applies continuous or intermittent force to a specific area of the spine, which helps decompress the affected discs. This method improves alignment, alleviates pain, and boosts spinal health.
  • Pelvic blocking technique: This involves placing cushioned wedges under each side of the pelvis. These wedges, combined with gravity, help target specific discs to reduce protrusion and relieve discomfort. As a low-force chiropractic technique, it’s often reserved for patients with acute symptoms that may make traditional adjustments too intense.
  • Massage therapy: Skilled hands can manipulate the soft tissues around the spine, improving circulation to deliver much-needed nutrients to the affected discs. Massage also reduces muscle tension to alleviate pressure on the discs. When combined with other chiropractic techniques, massage therapy can greatly enhance your overall back pain treatment.

When Do You Need More Than a Chiropractor?

While most patients experience significant relief after their first chiropractic session, lasting benefits usually require four to 12 sessions spread over six weeks. However, if your symptoms don’t improve or even worsen in that time, more invasive treatments may be necessary.

Signs that your spinal disc problems might require more than chiropractic care include:

  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Numbness in your arms, hands, or lower body
  • Persistent radiating pain to your legs that worsens when seated
  • Symptoms that interfere with your day-to-day activities

Get Lasting Relief from Disc Problems at Life Chiropractic

The Life Chiropractic team is dedicated to providing holistic care that targets the entire body rather than just treating isolated symptoms. Our chiropractors use a detailed, X-ray-based approach to ensure we deliver the most effective adjustments tailored to your needs.

Conveniently located in Ahwatukee, AZ, we’re ready to assist walk-ins and patients who book appointments in advance. So, don’t let disc problems hold you back from living life to the fullest! Contact us at 602-789-3430 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’re excited to help you on your health and wellness journey.


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