Few physical issues can cause so many kinds of annoyance as a herniated disc. This problem can compress nerve tissue to cause a variety of discomforts as well as the loss of control over one or more limbs. If you believe that your agony stems from a herniated disc, you may be agonizing even further over the prospect of having that disc surgically corrected. The good news is that many herniated disc issues can respond to non-surgical treatment options.
How Herniated Discs Hurt Your Quality of Life
Why do the discs situated between spinal vertebrae herniate, and what does that term even mean? These discs feature a gelatinous inner material contained by a durable fibrous casing — a structure that allows the discs to absorb shock while also maintaining the right degree of space between the vertebrae. Unfortunately, the outer casing can develop weaknesses that cause a section of it to bulge outward. Accident injuries that dislodge a disc from its normal position can create this situation; so can spinal alignment imbalances or degenerative conditions.
The bulging part of a herniated disc may press against the nerve roots that relay nerve signals between the spinal cord and the body's major nerves. This puts a crimp in the flow of nerve signals. Any nerve tissue served by that pinched nerve root may then experience bouts of pain, numbness, and/or odd pins-and-needles feelings. The nerve signals that control function or motion in the affected body part may also be pinched off. Common examples of these symptoms include sciatica (compression of the sciatic nerve roots serving the leg) and cervical radiculopathy (compression in the neck area that affects the arms or hands). Neck pain and back pain can also occur if the muscles in these areas react by going into spasm.
Non-Invasive Herniated Disc Treatment Options
Before you spend too many sleepless nights worrying about going under the knife, rest assured that you can probably get relief from your symptoms through conservative techniques instead. Your non-invasive herniated disc treatment options may include:
- Medications that reduce pain and inflammation, including the injection of corticosteroid and analgesic drugs directly into the pinched nerve
- Chiropractic adjustment to bring your spinal column back into proper alignment, easing pressure on the affected disc
- Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy, which uses a mechanical treatment table to gently stretch the spine (creating a vacuum that draws the herniated disc away from nearby nerves)
- Massage therapy to relieve muscle spasms caused by herniated discs
- Exercises to strengthen your spinal support and promote a healthier spinal alignment
Many of these services are commonly provided by chiropractors as a package. This holistic approach treats your herniated disc (and its underlying causes) on multiple fronts simultaneously. Ask a chiropractor near you whether these techniques could play a role in your back pain, neck pain, cervical radiculopathy, or sciatica treatment.
For more information about herniated disk treatment, contact a local chiropractor.