Mild to moderate herniated discs (commonly referred to as slipped discs) can usually be treated conservatively with stretching, exercise therapy and chiropractic care.
You may have heard the term “slipped disc” used to describe a low back injury, the accurate term for this type of injury are herniated discs. Discs do not actually “slip”. Rather, they may herniate or bulge out from between the bones. A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part or nucleus of the disc that is pushed through a tear in the outer layer or annulus of the disc. Pain results when irritating substances are released from this tear and also if the fragment touches or compresses a nearby nerve. Herniated discs have some similarities to degenerative disc disease and discs that herniate are often in an early stage of degeneration. Herniated discs are common in the low back or lumbar spine.
What causes herniated discs?
Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of herniated discs. Life style choices such as smoking, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health. Poor posture, daily wear and tear, injury or trauma, and incorrect lifting or twisting further stress the disc. If the disc is already weakened, it may herniate with a single movement or strain such as coughing or bending to pick up a pencil.
How do I know if I have a herniated disc?
Herniated discs are most likely to affect people between the ages of 30 and 40. Disc herniations may be present without causing pain. The most common symptom will be pain in the area of the herniation that may radiate across the hips or into the buttocks. You may also experience numbness or pain radiating down your leg to the ankle or foot. If the herniation is large enough, you may notice weakness with extension of your big toe and you may be unable to walk on your toes or heels. In severe cases of lumbar herniated discs, you may experience changes in your bowel or bladder function and may have difficulty with sexual function.
How are herniated discs treated?
Mild to moderate herniated discs can usually be treated conservatively with stretching, exercise therapy and chiropractic care. More advanced cases will often require some form of spinal decompression, such as traction or mechanical decompression, in conjunction with chiropractic care. Occasionally, a herniation may be severe enough to warrant surgical intervention. These cases are usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of therapy have failed to relieve pain, or if there is significant compression of the spinal cord or nerves.
What can I do at home for “Herniated Discs”?
Stretching for Herniated Discs
The goal of stretching is to take pressure of the discs, often times when there is pain or inflamation from herniated discs the muscles surrounding the discs can spasm causing more even more pain. Stretching often throughout the day will help eleviate this pain and relax the any muscle spasms. Click Here For Neck Stetches or Click Here For Low Back Stretches that will help alleviate pain and irritation cause by disc herniations
Core Stabilization Exercises for Lumbar Herniated Disc
When you have had a history of cervical herniated discs or want to be proactive and strengthen your lumbar core muscles. These 4 exercises if done daily will decrease the recurrence of future disc problems and also significantly decrease the chance you will have any disc injuries if you don’t have a history. Click on each exercise to get a printable description and picture of the exercise: Cat Camel, Bird Dog (Quadraped), Dead Bug, and Side Plank
Core Stabalizing Exercises for Cervical Herniated Discs
Similar to the lumbar core you can do core exercises for the cervical spine as well. Again these exercises if done daily will decrease the chance of a recurring injury or decrease that chance of having an initial cervical disc injury. Click Here For Cervical Core Exercises