The bones that structure the spine column in the back are shielded by discs located between the vertebras. These discs are circular with tough outer layers called the annulus which surrounds the nucleus. They link the vertebra together, enabling mobility and acting as shock absorbers for the spinal bones.
When a disc is bulged, slipped or ruptured, its known as a Herniated Disc. When these discs are injured, functionality of the spine is affected, causing disruptive pain and discomfort.
What causes a herniated disc injury?
Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine including the cervical spine (neck). However, its more common in the lumber spine (lower back). This depends on what part of the spine is affected.
Herniated Disc happens when there is a tear or rupture in the annulus. A fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out of this opening, into the spinal canal. Discs that become herniated usually are in an early stage of deterioration. The spinal canal has confined space for spinal nerves, and is insufficient for the displaced herniated disc fragment. Due to this congestion, the disc presses into the spinal nerves, often causing severe pain and discomfort.
Even a sharp, single injury or strain may result in a herniated disc. However, disc material wears out naturally with age, and the ligaments that hold it in place begin to loosen. When weakened, a relatively minor strain or twisting movement can cause a disc to rupture.
Certain individuals may be more prone to disc problems and, hence, may frequently suffer from herniated discs in several places along the spine. Research shows that a tendency of herniated discs may exist in families with multiple members affected.
Symptoms of a herniated disc.
Symptoms of a herniated disc depend on the position of the disc and the size of the herniation. If the herniated disc does not press on a spinal nerve, the patient may experience minor backache or no pain at all. If it does press on a nerve, there may be pain, numbness, or discomfort in the area of the body where the affected nerve travels to.
Typically, herniated disc affects these two areas.
Lumbar spine (lower back)
A herniated disc in the lower back results in Sciatica/Radiculopathy. When the disc presses on one or several nerves (that contribute to the sciatic nerve), it causes pain, burning, and numbness, radiating from the hips to the legs or sometimes the foot. Usually, either of the left or right sides is affected.
Patients often describe it as a sharp, electric shock type pain. Standing, walking, sitting or straightening the leg may worsen the pain. The lower back might hurt along with the legs however pain in the latter is worse.
Cervical spine (neck)
Symptoms of nerve compression in the neck are called cervical radiculopathy. These may include mild or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. The pain may radiate down the arm to the hand and fingers or may cause numbness and tingling in the shoulder or arm. Certain positions or movements of the neck may intensify the pain.
Spinal Decompression Therapy
Since ages, traction has been used as a therapeutic intervention in the treatment of low back pain.
Spinal decompression therapy is chiropractic decompression for herniated disc, a substitute to surgical treatment. The chiropractors perform spinal traction by gently stretching the spine using a decompression table or a motorized device.
Spinal decompression therapy provides optimal relief, treating back pain and a number of other spinal disc related complications.
How does chiropractic decompression for herniated disc work?
A spinal decompression table is the integral tool used in. It can be used to treat both cervical and lumbar areas. The treatment session lasts for over 30 to 45 minute with the patients fully clothed. A harness is used to strap the patient to the table comfortably. Then two parts of the table are pulled apart from one another, gently, in order to stretch the spine.
The intensity used to pull and stretch depends on the patient’s tolerance level. It is determined using a specialized computer technology which denotes body’s resistance to the stretches using a sensor. This ensures efficient and accurate spinal pressure release. According to the patient’s specific requirements, specific adjustments to the poundage are made.
The dispensation of negative intra-disc pressure on the decompression table enables repositioning and relocation of the disrupted areas into their rightful place. Meanwhile the lower pressure created stimulates healing substances into the disc.
When should you avoid Spinal Decompression?
Although beneficial, but spinal decompression therapy may not be suitable for everyone. There are a few restrictions to chiropractic decompression for herniated disc. It is extremely crucial to consult your physician and discuss potential risks with the chiropractor before going for Spinal decompression therapy. Following people are usually advised not to opt for this treatment.
- Women who are pregnant
- People who have damaged nerves from scarring or other injuries
- People who suffer from osteoporosis
- People who may have or have had broken vertebrae
- People who have had previous spinal fusion
- People whose spine contain instrumentations such as artificial discs, screws, plates, or rods.
What does research say?
According to a Neurological Research conducted in April 1998, data was collected from twenty-two medical centers for patients who received VAX-D therapy. These patients had lower back pain, sometimes accompanied by referred leg pain. Patients who received at least ten sessions and had a diagnosis of herniated disc, degenerative disc, or facet syndrome were confirmed for this study. A total of 778 cases were selected. The data was based on the patients’ quantitative assessments of pain, mobility and ability to carry out day-to-day activities after Spinal Decompression Therapy. 72% of the patients felt actual improvement in their body, declaring the experiment a success.
Many chiropractic expert clinics like Empower Health or Tannenbaum Chiropractic advise spinal decompression therapy for the treatment of sciatic nerves. Although much evidence is not available to support this theory so far its proven to be quite beneficial for patients.