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What are herniated
The 24 vertebrae of your spine are separated
from one another by pads of cartilage called discs. These
discs have a fairly tough outer layer with a soft interior
to cushion against the shocks and strains experienced as you
move and put various stresses on your spine. The discs are
subject to injury, disease, and degeneration with use over
time. Certain activities and types of work increase the risk
of discs being damaged or deteriorating. When the soft interior
material of a disc pushes out through a tear or weakening
in the outer covering, the disc is said to be herniated.
Herniated discs are also called protruding,
bulging, ruptured, prolapsed, slipped, or degenerated discs.
There are fine distinctions between these terms, but all really
refer to a disc that is no longer in its normal condition
and/or position. Herniated discs cause pain by impinging on
(intruding upon, irritating, and pinching) and even injuring
nerves in the spinal column.
What are some of the typical symptoms
of herniated discs?
Most disc herniation takes place in the lower
back (lumbar spine). The second most common site of herniation
is the neck (cervical spine).
A herniated lumbar disc may send pain shooting down through
your buttock and thigh into the back of your leg (sciatica).
Cervical disc herniation may cause pain in the shoulder,
arm, and hand. Herniated discs can cause muscle weakness,
make it hard to get up when you've been sitting or lying down,
cause pain when you strain to do something, even when you
cough or sneeze. They sometimes produce pain in the lower
right side of the abdomen. Herniated discs may also affect
nerves to the bladder and bowel, causing incontinence. This
symptom signals the need for immediate, emergency attention.
What can chiropractic do?
There is broad acceptance among health care professionals
and the public of the recommendation that the pain from herniated
discs be initially treated conservatively. That is, as long
as there are no signs (such as severe pain, numbness, or functional
impairment from nerve involvement) of the need for more invasive
treatment, two or three months of chiropractic care may be
the best choice before considering to spinal surgery or shots
of analgesics (painkillers) in your back. And only a minority
of disc herniations turn out to require treatment as traumatic
and costly as hospitalization and surgery or with as many
side effects (especially for older people) as opioid analgesics
and muscle relaxants.
A chiropractor will examine and question you carefully, take
a complete history, and conduct appropriate diagnostic tests.
He or she will focus on exactly what symptoms you've been
suffering and determine which parts of your spine are the
likely cause of your pain and loss of function. Chiropractic
provides the special training, techniques, and experience
needed to safely and effectively adjust your spine so that
the stress on the discs is minimized, the pain relieved, the
damaged or displaced structures given a chance to heal, and
your ability to return to normal functioning restored.
Other Resources :
More You Know About Musculoskeletal Health
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