Spinal Disc Herniation Jelly Doughnut Sioux City
Spinal disc herniations can cause severe pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness down an arm or a leg. The intense pain can last for several months before the disc fully heals. Disc herniations and extrusions are severe injuries that compromise our quality of life for several months.
Spinal discs are in between the vertebrae: they are essentially shock absorbers between the bones. Discs also help the vertebrae rotate, glide, and tip, which helps our body to move. The discs have to balance the body’s needs for both movement and structural support. Spinal discs have a thick fibrous outer layer, with a fluid center.
In its shape and composition, a spinal disc is very much like a jelly donut, with the jelly completely in the center. If excessive pressure is applied to the donut, the jelly can shoot out the back of the donut. This is similar to a spinal disc herniation, in which the jelly breaks leaks out the back of the disc. Unfortunately, the spinal cord and nerve roots are directly behind the spinal disc, and so when excessive pressure is applied, the extruded jelly compresses either the spinal cord or nerves. Inflammation and fluid surrounds the herniation, and further compresses the nerves.
When a nerve is compressed, it alters its function and its overall health is affected. Severe nerve compression can cause muscle weakness in the hand or foot. Pain, numbness, and tingling are common sensations felt by someone experiencing a disc herniation. Other people may experience a loss of sensitivity on their skin. Compression on the sciatic nerve, by either a lumbar disc or piriformis muscle entrapment, produces radiating pain. Radiating back pain from piriformis syndrome will not be helped by decompression treatment, but does respond to other types of therapy.
Treatment for Disc Injuries
As with any injured tissue, the goals of treatment in the case of a herniated disc are to decrease pain and inflammation. Unfortunately, the location of the injury makes it difficult to treat. Every day we apply pressure to the disc—every time we take a step, twist, or sit, we stress and strain the spinal discs.
This is further complicated by the limited blood supply to the discs, which is very limited. In our normal movements, disc pressure fluctuates, and as a result blood rushes into and out of the area. Think of a wet sponge: if you step on a sponge, the pressure pushes the water out of the sponge, only to rush back into the sponge when the foot is removed. Walking provides the pressure changes needed to compress and decompress a disc. Exercise and normal walking movements nourish a vertebral disc. Unfortunately, disc herniations cause severe back pain, which can limit your ability to walk or move. This limits blood flow to the discs. Secondly, massive muscle spasms cause further compression and limit blood flow.
Spinal disc decompression treatments help stretch the spine and decompress the joints. Decompression treatment involves multiple cycles of loading and unloading the joints, bringing in blood and nutrients to accelerate healing. This movement also decreases pressure on the pain nerves, allowing the treatment to decrease your overall pain and discomfort.
Spinal decompression treatment is also combined with traditional heat, ice, electric, ultrasound, cold laser, and traction treatments. Light range of motion exercises are incorporated early to decrease pain and muscle spasms. After the back pain decreases in severity, core strengthening exercises are introduced in order to strengthen the back and reduce the risk of future injuries.
To reduce the risk of future disc injuries, treatment focuses on core strength and muscle patterns. Many patients with chronic low back pain did not properly strengthen their low back after their first lumbar disc herniation; therefore, they are more likely to experience future back pain or disc injuries. Therapeutic exercises and core stability work can be safely performed to enhance back strength and limit future injuries. The exercises require consistent work but are well worth it. Long-term studies show success with core strengthening, posture changes, and maintenance of proper spine and joint health. When the muscles work properly, the lumbar discs and joints are not overwhelmed with shearing forces that destroy the spine. Proper back strength decreases future osteoarthritis and chronic back pain.
Spinal disc herniations and bulges can be successfully treated in the office with a variety of techniques. Therapeutic treatments and modalities will shorten the overall intensity, duration, and frequency of pain symptoms. Decompression treatment by itself helps decrease your current episode of back pain, but it does not help reduce future occurrences and back pain. Proper chiropractic treatment and therapy will help get you out of pain today and in the future.