Would a Chiropractor Help a Bulging Disc?

Would a Chiropractor Help a Bulging Disc?

Would a Chiropractor Help a Bulging Disc?

In short, yes. We will work with you to understand your medical history, understand your issues with a physical exam and create a chiropractic treatment plan.

What is a disc?

The disc provides the space between the spinal bones and acts as a cushion. This compresses and then springs back into shape to absorb forces.

Similar to the compression pistons, which absorb the force to protect the wheel arches and axle.

When the spine is malpositioned, the disc will already be compressed in some cases. When forces are exerted, they cannot be absorbed, meaning the disc is absent of the spring that absorbs force.

What is a bulging disc?

The disc is a mix of collagen, cartilage, and water. If they are damaged, they are commonly known as a disc bulge, slipped disc, or herniation.

Imagine spokes surrounding the disc on a wheel. They are there to encase the fluid inside the disc.

Typically, when a disc bulge occurs, the spokes surrounding the fluid are damaged and fluid is escaping through the gap.

The fluid congeals together and, in most cases, sticks together like putty. When pressure is taken off the disc where the gap is, the fluid will return inside.

There are different degrees of a disc bulge and the more spokes that are broken, the potential of symptoms worsening, or chronic pain. This means that even when pressure is taken off the disc the fluid might not so easily return inside.

What happens if you have a bulging disc?

When they occur, they usually cause a guarding posture, such as bending forward or leaning to one side. This will inevitably lead to a lessened range of motion.

The body is smart and wants to protect the area; therefore, a guarding posture is usually a posture that does the least potential of further damage.

However, there are many side effects to this, such as headaches and migraines, neck pain, and can affect your mental health.

Leaning away will protect the disc bulge from seeping out through the gap of the broken spokes.

Depending on where the broken spokes are will determine the symptoms. For example, if the bulge is pressing on a nerve, then there will be a guarding posture as well and pain in say the arm or leg.

Analogies to understand the disc

Imagine the disc is like a toothpaste tube. When pressuring on the tube this compresses and returns to the original position.

However, when the lid of the tube is removed, the paste inside escapes through the gap.

The lid represents a spoke breaking on the other wall of the disc, and the paste represents the fluid escaping on compression.

Another example is to imagine the disc is like a donut, with a doughy outer layer and jam in the middle.

If pressure is put on one side of the donut, the jam is forced to the other side. With enough force, the jam will break through the outer doughy layer.

The doughy outer layer represents the spokes, and the jam represents the fluid inside.

If you sat on a donut, the donut would be compressed and would take time to return to size.

When the disc is compressed, the fluid is flattened and will need time to decompress. The disc can heal if traction is applied to the area pulling the disc space apart.

A classic presentation of a bulging disc

The patient’s posture will be in guarding posture by stooping forward or leaning away from the pain.

They can happen anywhere in the spine from the neck to the sacrum but are most common in the weight-bearing spinal joints of the lower back.

They could be guarding only or accompanied by sharp nerve pain, more commonly in the arm or leg.

If the bulge is pushing into the spinal cord, there will be a pain when coughing or sneezing.

Normally there is a history of back pain in the patient, and usually, there is a final straw moment when bending, twisting, or lifting. This is when the patient describes it as “something goes/went”.

What we can do to help 

The first step is to turn off the muscle spasm to aid movement but only enough that the body can still heal and recover.

This is a structural problem which means that it’s not just a muscle spasm and will need more time to heal as a result.

Disc bulges will be accompanied by a lineage of postural issues that your practitioner will highlight in the examination and pictures.

We will work with you to understand your medical history, understand your issues with a physical exam and create a chiropractic treatment plan.

Please feel free to call us for a free phone consultation at our chiropractic clinic in West Sussex to see if we can help you.

01444 453888 | theteam@the-back-doctor.co.uk

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