Disc herniation, or bulging of the discs, most commonly occurs in the lumbar spine (lower back) and typically develops due to the displacement of disc material beyond the space of the intervertebral disc. The spine is a collection of individual vertebrae that are stacked on top of each other from the neck to the buttocks. The intervertebral disc is the region between each vertebra that provides support and cushioning to prevent rubbing of vertebrae.
The intervertebral discs contain a gel-like material called a nucleus pulposus (similar to the oil present in the shock absorbers of vehicles). It is responsible for reducing friction between the vertebra and provides lubrication to aid in spinal movement. The rupture of the coverings through the outer layer of the disc surrounding this gel-like substance results in the herniation of a disc. Disc herniation may result in symptoms that include debilitating lower back pain that can make daily activities challenging to perform.
A herniated disc may have many primary and associated symptoms, but the lower back pain is usually the first symptom. In a majority of cases (mild to moderate), this pain will last for a few hours to days, and then subside without any medical or surgical intervention. However, weakness of a lower extremity, leg pain and numbness or tingling often follow.
In more than 50 percent of cases, the leg pain ultimately travels beneath the knee and can involve the ankle and foot. Loss of bowel or bladder control from compression of the surrounding nerves is a rare symptom of lumbar disc herniation that may indicate a more serious problem that needs immediate surgical attention.
Research and clinical trials indicate that the herniated disc is responsible for a large number of cases of the back, leg, neck and arm pain syndromes. Because the intervertebral discs don’t have their own blood supply, they do not receive oxygen and nutrients directly. They use a diffusion process created by decompression and motion to enhance healing and restore nutrients. According to a recent study, specific exercises and combination of stretches is an effective option to relieve lower back pain. However, all cases don't well respond to these exercises and require additional therapeutic procedures to improve function in persons with symptomatic disc herniation.
One of the safest, effective and non-invasive back therapy to reverse disc herniation is spinal decompression therapy. It uses an U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved machine and specifically designed technique to gently and gradually stretch the spine. This stretching ultimately lessens the load on the herniated disc (compressed nerve root) and can result in a reduction or even absolute alleviation of pain.
Decompression therapy, also known as IID therapy, is cheaper than long-term use of pain medications and surgery. It is non-invasive, completely drug-free and requires no extensive recovery time. The prognosis rate is very high, as it can help 80 to 95 percent of people suffering from chronic back or leg pain due to disc injury.
Those suffering from herniated discs, degenerative disc disease or bulging discs should consult an experienced chiropractor. Many proven alternatives to expensive prescription pain medications and invasive back surgery are available. The discovery of the right herniated disc treatment solution, like spinal decompression therapy, can dramatically provide pain relief and improve a patient’s quality of life.
Mathew Gutierrez, DC, is the owner of Whole Earth Partners, located at 6211 W. Northwest Hwy., Ste. 159, in Dallas. For appointments and more information, call 214-368-3030 or visit WholeHealthPartners.com.
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