When injuries occur, some are quick to self-diagnose themselves with a disc injury before they are even seen from a health care professional. Whether it might be from a sports injury, motor vehicle accident, or purely just from performing a wrong movement. Many Patients claim they have disc injuries but may not understand what a disc herniation or disc injury is before diagnosing themselves with it. Let’s take a closer look, step by step, at disc injuries to understand what they really are and how they present themselves to our patients in Burbank.
The spine is made up of a series of discs, joints, muscles, and ligaments. All of these structures, when irritated, can contribute to not only neck and back pain, but also radicular pain which will be explained later. Discs can present with different signs and symptoms depending on if it is pushed out of its anatomical range forward, back or to the side. Spinal canal diameter in the mid-cervical spine (neck) ranges between 17-18mm, lower cervical spine between 12-14 mm, thoracic spine (mid-back) between 12-14mm, and lumbar spine (low back) between 15-27mm.1 If a disc is pushed back and narrows the spinal cord, it can lead to more serious signs and symptoms.
Disc injuries can lead to radicular pain, which can be classified as nerve root irritation. This can present as pain, numbness or tingling traveling down the arms or the legs for example. Generally, Chiropractors help with the pain that is associated with this condition. If there is spinal cord stenosis or narrowing, it can present as: saddle paresthesia or anesthesia, recent onset of bowel and bladder dysfunction, trouble sleeping at night, and loss of tendon reflex to name a few. All of these signs and symptoms presented with spinal canal stenosis require immediate medical attention. Disc herniation or irritation can also present with general dull, sore, achy localized pain, or even feel sharp. There might also be radiation down the leg, to the knee or foot, which can then be indicative of nerve involvement. Decrease in flexibility and range of motion can also be seen.
Taking a thorough history and performing a proper physical exam will help diagnose what is causing the pain. Chiropractors depend on proper examinations to determine the best treatment. It can tell you what structures are involved and whether it is muscular, ligament, disc or joint related. Orthopedic tests and a neurological exam should be performed to help find out what the root cause of the pain is.
If your Chiropractor believes there is a condition present, there are a few different options as far as imaging. X-ray: to help visualize any type of trauma to bone or check for arthritis. MRI- to visualize the soft tissue, tendons, muscles, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, and discs. EMG/ NCV – Testing the electrical impulses of the spinal nerve roots (EMG) or peripheral nerves (NCV) and the response of the muscles.
Chiropractic Treatment for a herniated disc can be sought out as an alternative form of medicine to help with the pain normally felt in the back. Physiotherapy such as: electrical muscle stimulation, ultrasound, and soft tissue work can also help. Prescribed exercises can be given to help strengthen the core, back and surrounding musculature for more stability and support. Your doctor, and chiropractor, can also recommend NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as ibuprofen to help reduce the pain, depending on the severity. Medical attention is advised depending on the severity of the injury, pain scale, length of time the pain has been going on for, and mechanism of injury.
Proper form while lifting and exercising can help prevent a disc herniation tremendously. As you become older, the discs in your spine become less and less hydrated so can take longer to heal. Another form of prevention is trying not to go through any motions that require extreme flexion/extension and rotation which are more common in causing a disc herniation or disc injuries. Strengthening the musculature surrounding the disc for support and stability. For example: abs, upper and lower back, quadratus lumborum, neck musculature, etc.
The discs in our spine are gel like substances that act as a cushion or shock absorber whenever we run, jump, sit, etc. Through the aging process and sometimes with activity, these discs can become irritated and have the ability to pouch outwards causing pain and discomfort. More often than not, they can become rehabilitated and through careful treatment and rehab can reduce pain and irritation.
Bending, twisting, lifting, and prolonged sitting can all contribute to disc irritation. As we age, the discs in our spine dehydrate making them more prone to injury as well. When injuries occur, sometimes x-rays will be taken to see the alignment of the spine and to rule out any type of serious injury. MRIs look more closely at the soft tissue structures and will more accurately identify what kind of disc irritation might be present and can help provide practitioners more information. Based on the details of the MRI report, your provider can more efficiently move forward in establishing the correct treatment protocol.
Depending on the type of disc injury, corrective exercises and stretches can be recommended by your doctor in order to help alleviate the pain and correct the injury. Chiropractic adjustments may help to realign the spine taking pressure off the disc and associated exiting nerve root. Manual muscle work around the area of concern can help alleviate muscle tension and stiffness around the area. Passive therapies such as electrical muscle stimulation and therapeutic ultrasound may be used to help decrease any type of muscle spasms.
This is case by case and all depends on the severity of the disc injury. There are a few different classifications of disc injuries which have different grades associated with each respectively. As mentioned above, MRI can sometimes be ordered to help better evaluate the situation.
More often than not, discs will protrude posteriorly and laterally, to the back and side. This can lead to pinching of the exiting spinal nerve root leading to numbness and tingling which is not normal. However, these symptoms can be reduced with correct treatment and exercise recommendations. Medical evaluation is recommended immediately if a person experiences symptoms including bilateral leg pain with numbness and tingling, paralysis of the bladder, and weakness in the lower extremities.
Conservative care can be a first option as it is found that surgery can more often than not, be avoided. Of course, this is all based on each specific case, but through careful rehab and treatment, disc injuries and pain can be reduced. Are there any activities I should avoid? Provocative or pain aggravating positions should be avoided, along with lifting. Prescribed exercises and stretches are recommended to help facilitate the healing process.
Doctor or Chiropractic, Shahen Simian, is experienced in treating herniated discs over his years in Burbank. Chiropractors, like Doctor Simian, know that it takes a thorough examination to determine the best treatment for your herniated disc. Chiropractors treat many different conditions through a variety of Services and Techniques. We invite you to our office in Burbank and see why many say we are the best chiropractor in Burbank. Feel free to give us a call at (818) 514-7294.
Allied Pain and Wellness
1209 N Hollywood Way #200
Burbank, CA 91505