Many patients with back pain, leg pain, or weakness of the lower extremity muscles are diagnosed with a herniated disc. When a disc herniation occurs, the cushion that sits between the spinal vertebra is pushed outside its normal position. A herniated disc would not be a problem if it weren’t for the spinal nerves that are very close to the edge of these cushioning discs. These nerves are vulnerable to pressure from the disc, this pressure interrupts nerve flow causing symptoms such as pain, numbness, tingling in the back or legs.
The disc is a soft cushion between all the bones of the spine. The outer part of the disc is called the annulus, this is a more rigid tissue that holds the nucleus,( inner gel like substance) inside. As we age the disc becomes more rigid, less elastic thus more prone to rupturing or bulging. When a dis ruptures, a portion of the disc leaks out of its outer boundary-this is a herniated or “slipped” disc.
Symptoms of a disc herniation :include tingling and numbness going down the legs. Sometimes this feels like an electric shock running down the leg. Muscle weakness in the legs is another sign of nerve pressure from the disc pressure on the nerve. Pain in the lower back and legs is also common in disc syndromes.
Diagnosis of disc herniation: This is usually made after a history and physical exam. Sometimes an MRI may be required to better visualize the disc problem.
Treatment: After your diagnosis is confirmed the Drs at the Merrick Chiropractic office will develop a treatment program with several different aspects. We will first work to reduce your lower back and/or leg pain. Modalities such as ice, heat, TNS, and ultrasound can help with this. Next we may utilize the Cox flexion distraction method to reduce disc pressure and open up space between the discs. We will work on modifying your lifestyle activities so you are avoiding things that are causing pain.
If leg pain is present we may start you immediately on McKenzie exercises to centralize the disc pain. After your pain starts to subside, we will than perform functional evaluation tests to determine what rehabilitative exercise will benefit your condition best. Attendance of our low back school class will help you going forward to prevent future back problems. Disc problems are one of the most common reasons patients seek chiropractic care.