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Disc Herniations: not all are equal

By Dr. Jonathan Chung

Disc Herniations: not all are equalNeck pain and back pain are two of the most common reasons for visits to a doctor’s office. One of the most notorious causes of neck and back pain are caused by herniated discs in the spine. Most people have heard of a herniated disc, but there’s a lot of misinformation about the condition what to do to get it treated. Today’s article is going to deal with the most common misconceptions.

Misconception #1
Hernia = Herniated Disc:
First of all, a herniated disc and a hernia are not the same things. A hernia is a condition that typically involves parts of your internal organs poking out of the body and can lead to parts of the organ to become ischemic and die. Many people use these terms interchangeably, and believe me when I say that it’s never good for the chiropractor or the patient to have a person with a hernia in the office. Those people belong in the ER.

A herniated disc involves a part of the intervertebral disc poking out of the normal barriers of the spine. They are often called slipped disc or ruptured discs. When someone has a herniated disc, the common threat is that of a pinched nerve causing pain or dysfunction to spine or the extremities.

Misconception #2
Herniated Discs Require Surgery:
The truth is that herniated discs range widely in magnitude and severity. They are generally categorized into 3 different types in order of severity: disc prolapse, disc extrusion, and disc sequestration. A prolapse is when the disc begins to push out of its normal barrier. An extrusion is when parts of the disc have visibly entered the spinal canal. Sequestrations are when the disc material begins to break off the main disc and separate into the spinal canal.

Most of you reading this probably have a prolapse and don’t even know it. Research shows that as many as 60% of disc herniations show no pain or symptoms. Protrusions and smaller extrusions that cause pain can typically be managed conservatively without surgery. Larger extrusions and full sequestrations can affect the spinal cord, cause muscular weakness, and even affect organ function which certainly becomes a surgical issue.

Misconception #3
Chiropractic is unsafe for people with disc herniations
I’m often confronted with this misconception when someone introduces me to a friend or family member with a spine problem. Even though as many as 60% of my patients are people who are coming to me for relief from disc herniations, I’m often told that their spine has herniations and that chiropractic is not safe.

While this may have been true for some of chiropractic’s olden days where people only used a heavy handed and rough style of manipulating the spine, we live in a time where multiple techniques can be applied that are gentle and effective in helping people with disc problems.

Most doctors offer therapies to relieve the pain of a bad disc. This can range from things like traction devices, injections, and acupuncture. These therapies do a great job of relieving the pain from a bad disc, which we know can be excruciating.

Once the person is out of acute pain, it’s in the patient’s best interest to fix the underlying reason the disc went bad to begin with. Some people have disc problems from something like a severe accident or fall, but many others have years of structural and biomechanical imbalance in their spine. When the spine loses its normal structure, it begins to have poor motion and poor motion will wear down the tissues of the disc.

A chiropractor who focuses on Structural Correction looks to correct these subtle imbalances so that the spine will be more balanced in gravity. A balanced spine in gravity means healthier movement and better outcomes for chronic disc patients in the long term. If you’re suffering from secondary problems like chronic back pain, sciatica, neck pain, or arm pain from a previous disc herniation, then your problem may be from a Structural Shift in the spine. Stop suffering every time you get up out of a chair or bed and experience the Structural Difference.

Keystone  Chiropractic

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