Our spines are made up of many moving parts. Our bones which make up the structure of our spines are called vertebrae. We have “cushions” that sit in between these bones are called discs. They are made up what’s called connective tissue which is the building blocks of what makes up our ligaments. In the middle of each disc is a jelly like substance that helps provide flexibility and space for nerves to exit the spine.
Often called “slipped discs”, disc injuries are a result of excessive strain put upon the discs themselves. This can be as a result of lifting heavy loads or lifting them incorrectly, acute trauma such as a fall or car accident or a result of age. Often people report simple routine tasks as the trigger behind an acute episode. Something simple as bending down to tie their shoes or lift the washing or simply lifting your child for a cuddle.
As chiropractors, we find that disc injuries are product of cumulative stress in most cases, resulting from micro-trauma to the discs over time.
Sciatica is referred to pain that travels down the leg. True sciatica is a result a disc injury. The jelly like substance inside the disc is now pushing onto a nerve and causes a referral/travelling of pain down the leg. The symptoms of sciatica can also be caused other sources such as muscles or joints. While not true sciatica, chiropractic treatment is exceptionally effective in these cases.
Back pain is very common in our society. Statistics show that back pain is a major health concern in Australia. In fact, 70-90% of Australians will experience back pain at one stage of their life and 1 in 6 Australians are likely to experience the physical and psychological effects of back pain (1). Seeing end stage of a building problem is all too common in Chiropractic offices.
In fact, disc injuries can go undetected for many years and can be commonly be written off as low-grade back pain. We also find that disc injuries can also be present without pain. In fact a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, took a group of 98 middle aged men and women with NO back pain and imaged their spines using an MRI. 64% of them had disc injuries and didn’t even know about it! (3)
This tells us that disc injuries are more common than we think and can be present without us knowing about it. Or even when it is, we tend to write it off as common back pain and nothing serious.
1. http://www.aihw.gov.au/back-problems/what-are-back-problems 2017.Web
2. Maureen C. Jensen, Michael N. Brant-Zawadzki, Nancy Obuchowski, Michael T. Modic, Dennis Malkasian, and Jeffrey S. Ross. Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Lumbar Spine in People without Back Pain. N Engl J Med 1994; 331:69-73Learn About Our Free Initial Consultation →
How to Treat It
Chiropractic care offers real solutions for treating the symptoms of disc injuries as well as treating the cause. Chiropractors are experts in dealing with conditions of the spine and are often referred to as neuro-musculoskeletal experts.
The common misconception is that a chiropractor will make the disc bulge or herniation worse by adjusting it. This is in fact not true! Chiropractic treatment is effective and has lasting effects.
The reason why Chiropractic works, is it’s focused on fixing the foundational cause of the disc injury not just merely the symptoms. It is focused on improving the overall alignment of the spine and ensuring that the area under repair can heal with the maximum amount of stability. A spine which is misaligned results in poor function as well as inefficient repair and healing. Improving the function of nerves ensures that the muscles that are supporting and protecting the area of injury from further damage. That way your muscles can do what it was designed for, which is helping brunt against the constant stresses we put upon our spines and help us move efficiently. For this reason, chiropractic treatment has been shown to have great results in the short as well as the long term.
- A Swiss study took 148 patients aged between 18 – 65 with slipped or herniated discs and found that 90.5% of patients improved over 3 months and 88% of patient’s conditions had improved after one year after receiving chiropractic treatment (3).
- 14 out of the 16 International Clinical Guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain recommend Chiropractic care (4).
- The US Governments’ National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine rated Chiropractic treatment effective and relatively safe for the treatment of lower back pain when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner (5)
At our office we ensure we provide you the best, up to date and research based treatment. So rest assured you are in the best hands for this condition.
3. Leemann, Serafin et al. Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients With Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude, Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With One-Year Follow-Up. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 37 , Issue 3 , 155 – 163
4. Koes BW, van Tulder M, Lin CW, Macedo LG, McAuley J, Maher C. An updated overview of clinical guidelines for the management of non-specific low back pain in primary care. Eur Spine J. 2010 Dec;19(12):2075-94
5. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/spinemanipulation.htm 2016 WebLearn About Our Free Initial Consultation →
My GP told me not to see a Chiropractor for my disc injury, will Chiropractic make it worse?
Unfortunately, there has been a lot of misinformation about chiropractic with regards to safety and effectiveness with treating and managing disc injuries. Not everyone who provides a manipulation to the spine are qualified to do so or are Chiropractors. Chiropractors undergo study for 5yrs and extensively study the spine, and specialise in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal injury. You should only see a practitioner who is trained and licensed to diagnose and treat the spine. You are in no better hands with regards to caring and treating for you spine than a chiropractor.
Chiropractic care is not about going in and trying to “crack and pop” everything. It is a gentle targeted approach on restoring function to underperforming areas to help your body support your spine while it’s healing. At our office, we ensure to only use the safest and most specific adjustments to treat areas of dysfunction. We also ensure to take care of the resulting compensatory conditions that, in most cases, are the reason why you are feeling pain.
As the research above shows, Chiropractic care is effective and safe while you have disc injury. In fact, an article published in the Journal of American Medical Association suggested patients try chiropractic as a form of conservative treatment for chronic low back pain and disc injuries before considering surgery (1)
Is it appropriate to adjust my spine when I have a disc injury?
The thought of having a disc injury can be daunting. Unfortunately, there are again a lot of misinformation regarding the safety and appropriateness of treating disc injuries. Chiropractors are specialised in diagnosing and treating the spine, including disc injuries. They make the best decision whether a disc injury is appropriate to adjust or not.
Adjustments restore function to nerves that supply muscles, blood vessels and ligaments. This is paramount in ensuring the area of injury have repair properly now as to avoid long term chronic issues often seen with people with “bad backs” or “slipped discs”. So, the best time to get adjusted in actually while the disc is in its healing phase. As the research project in Switzerland showed, chiropractic adjustments are extremely effective in the short and long term (1)
1. Leemann, Serafin et al. Outcomes of Acute and Chronic Patients With Magnetic Resonance Imaging–Confirmed Symptomatic Lumbar Disc Herniations Receiving High-Velocity, Low-Amplitude, Spinal Manipulative Therapy: A Prospective Observational Cohort Study With One-Year Follow-Up. Journal of Manipulative & Physiological Therapeutics , Volume 37 , Issue 3 , 155 – 163
Are adjustments safe while I have a disc injury?
Chiropractic has been recommended by not only governmental bodies but also Medical Associations with regards to treatment for disc injuries. There has been investigations into the safety of Chiropractic adjustments. In the words of the New Zealand Government’s Inquiry, chiropractic care is “remarkably safe” (1). Chiropractic has an excellent safety record. It is the result of a conservative approach to health that avoids invasive procedures or addictive drugs.
In relation to the treatment of neck and back pain, studies have shown that a course of chiropractic care was 250 times safer than a course of anti-inflammatory drugs(2).
The US Governments’ National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine rated Chiropractic treatment effective and relatively safe for the treatment of lower back pain when performed by a trained and licensed practitioner (3). In fact 14 out of the 16 International Clinical Guidelines for the treatment of lower back pain recommend Chiropractic care (4).
Chiropractic has also advanced significantly over the years. More and more research has and is being conducted, looking at the most effective and safest methods for restoring function back to the nerves. We have found that gentle low force techniques directly and indirectly have been effective at restoring nerve function that is responsible for helping stabilize the site of injury while it’s repairing.
So rest assured, you are in safe hands.
- Chiropractic in New Zealand: Report of the Commission of Inquiry. (1979). Hasselberg PD, Government Printer, Wellington, New Zealand
- Dabbs,V., & Lauretti,W.J. (1995). A Risk Assessment of Cervical Manipulation vs NSAIDs for the Treatment of Neck Pain. Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, 18(8), 530-536
- Koes BW, van Tulder M, Lin CW, Macedo LG, McAuley J, Maher C. An updated overview of clinical guidelines for the management of non-specific low back pain in primary care. Eur Spine J. 2010 Dec;19(12):2075-94
- https://nccih.nih.gov/health/pain/spinemanipulation.htm 2016 Web
How many visits will it take?
Each person is unique and has their own unique set of circumstances. The same applies to their condition and the most appropriate course of treatment. At our office, we make sure we create a detailed treatment plan and help you answer the questions of what we can do, how long it will take and the best things to do to get the best result. We also provide you with ongoing feedback on your progress and healing stage so you understand how far you have come and what’s in store for the next stage.
What if chiropractic care doesn’t help?
At My Health Chiro, we endeavor to provide the best care possible. If at any point we find that your treatment plan isn’t achieving our intended goals, we will make sure we find out why. If we find at any point we are unable to help you toward your goal, we will find someone who will. We want to make sure you get the care you need, not waste your time or money!