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One-third of adults over 20 show signs of herniated discs (although only 3% of these disks cause symptoms). – New York Times Saturday December 15, 2012. According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, 8 out of 10 people have some type of backache.
Herniated Discs and Disc issues are a legitimate problem today. Modern science has made a slew of surgeries available as a solution for disc herniations with the results being pretty much permanent. However, before deciding on surgery, why not explore a natural, non-invasive solution.
Vertebral discs lie between each spinal bone (vertebrae) and serve the purpose of shock absorbtion, absorbing the impact of the body’s daily activities and keeping the vertebrae above and below it separated. The discs consist of an outer layer (annulus fibrosus) which holds in loose fibers suspended in a mucoprotein gel with the consistency of a liquid jelly (nucleus pulposus).
When vertebrae are aligned properly, pressure is evenly distributed across the disc and it presents no issues. When you have spinal misalignment, pressure is now distributed unevenly forcing the disc to protrude and the jelly-like substance to move outward. The disc can be likened to a jelly doughnut: whereby the annulus fibrosis is similar to the dough and the nucleus pulposis is the jelly. If one presses down on the front of the doughnut the jelly moves backwards. With enough force, the jelly can even be extruded from the doughnut. When the disc is protruded from it’s position it puts pressure on surrounding tissues such as the spinal cord and nerve roots.
A bulge -- The gel has been pushed out slightly from the disk and is evenly distributed around the circumference.
Protrusion/Prolapse - The gel has pushed out slightly and asymmetrically in different places.
Extrusion -- The gel balloons extensively into the area outside the vertebrae or breaks off from the disk.
Herniation - When the disc ruptures, a portion of the spinal disc pushes outside its normal boundary
“Slipped Discs” A disc cannot “slip” since it is knitted into the vertebrae from above and below. The vertebrae do however slip and cause uneven pressure on the discs. This is often inappropriately called a slipped disc.
Chiropractic treatment has been a much needed blessing to many sufferers saving them from spinal surgery. Rather than surgically removing a much needed part of your disc, you can safely and non-invasively have a chiropractor align the spine. These spinal manipulations are designed to restore proper alignment of the vertebrae thereby evenly distributing pressure throughout the discs. Bulging or Protruded disc material does not need to be removed by surgery. With proper treatment, the bulging, protruded or herniated portion can be reduced in size and eventually reabsorbed into the disc allowing normal function of the disc.
The following studies reveal the effectiveness and safe treatment of disc issues through Chiropractic spinal manipulations.
Since disc protrusion can irritate spinal nerves, one must consider what organs these affected nerves lead to improper
function. A revealing study by Dr. James E Browning, DC in Sheboygan Wisconsin revealed that pelvic pain and abdominal organ dysfunction can be caused by lumbar or sacral nerve root compression or irritation. (Browning JF. The mechanically induced pelvic pain and organic dysfunction syndrome: an often overlooked cause of bladder, bowel, gynecological, and sexual dysfunction. J of the Neuromusculoskeletal System. 1996;4:52-66)
A valuable study was conducted over a prolonged period at the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Shanghai Second Medical College, and Chief Surgeon, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Rui Jin Hospital, Shanghai,China. From 1975 through 1983, a total of 517 patients with protruded lumbar discs from L3 – S1 were admitted for manipulative treatment. In all, 434 of 517 (83.9%) cases responded well to spinal manipulation. These results indicate that most lumbar disc protrusions could be effectively treated by spinal manipulation or chiropractic treatment. (Pang-Fu Kuo P, Loh Z. Treatment of lumbar intervertebral disc protrusions by manipulation. Clinical Orthopedics and Related Research. 1987;215:47-55.)
Another well-proven study by Dr. Ben Eliyahu DJ conducted a study of 27 patients with disc herniations taking an MRI before starting chiropractic treatment. All patients were re-evaluated by postcare follow-up MRI scans and clinical examinations were conducted. 80% of the patients studied had good clinical outcomes and 63% revealed a reduced size or completely reabsorbed disc herniation. 78% of the patients were able to return to work in their pre-disability occupations! This study demonstrates the safe and significant role chiropractic treatment can have managing disc herniation. (Ben Eliyahu DJ. Magnetic resonance imaging and clinical follow-up: study of 27 patients receiving chiropractic care for cervical and lumbar disc herniations. JMPT. 1996;19(19).)
Can Chiropractic further injure a herniated disc? A study was conducted in 2004, with the objective of providing a qualitative systematic review of the risk of spinal manipulation in the treatment of lumbar disk herniations and to estimate the risk of spinal manipulation causing a severe adverse reaction in a patient presenting with lumbar disc herniation. The Results? An estimate of the risk of spinal manipulation causing a clinically worsened disk herniation in a patient presenting with lumbar disc herniation is calculated from published data to be less than 1 in 3.7 million! In conclusion, the obvious safety of spinal manipulation, especially when compared with other "medically accepted" treatments, should encourage the use of chiropractic care as a conservative treatment plan for lumbar disc herniation.(J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Mar-Apr;27(3):197-210.)
Dr. Deanna Barbaro at A Better Life Chiropractic specializes in proper vertebrae alignment and the science of vertebral/disc issues. Before deciding on surgery for a disc issue, consider a natural, less invasive method and give chiropractic a fair chance.