You Can Heal. No, really, you can.
We've been conditioned to panic when we hear these two dreaded words talking about back pain: herniated disc. Automatically we think we will be in pain forever or require extensive surgery. The truth is actually a little more uplifting, herniated discs do heal with time. A healing time of 6-8 weeks seems to be a widely agreed amount of time to see improvement in symptoms for most patients.
What is a disc ? Our intervertebral discs act as shock absorbers for our spine and act as joint allowing our spine to move. This disc is "gel-like" material surrounded by a firm casing. In the case of a herniated disc a portion of the disc ruptures from it's protective covering pressing on the nerves of the low back. These nerves supply the legs and low backs and this is often why you experience the shooting pain associated with a herniated disc.
Why is this important ? When employing any modality it is important to start with the most conservative treatment and progress with more aggressive treatments if needed. That's right, at its most simplest of levels, do nothing. The body has a tremendous ability to adapt and can often overcome slight aches and pains with ease by just resting.
When should I seek care ? The simplest answer to this questions is: it depends. Generally, for an episode of acute low back pain if you are not seeing an improvement in your symptoms in 24 hours or less than it is prudent to seek a Chiropractor or other medical professional to evaluate your pain.
Can Chiropractic Help ? Chiropractic can help a herniated disc by decreasing pain and restoring normal spinal mechanics. A study comparing MRI's from before and after chiropractic care found the following results:
Twenty-seven patients with MRI-documented and symptomatic disc herniations of the cervical or lumbar spine. All patients were evaluated before commencement of chiropractic care by MRI scans for presence of disc herniations. Precare evaluations also included clinical examination and visual analog scores. Patients were then treated with a course of care that included traction, flexion distraction, spinal manipulative therapy, physiotherapy and rehabilitative exercises. All patients were re-evaluated by postcare follow-up MRI scans, clinical examination and visual analog scores. Seventy-eight percent of the patients were able to return to work in their predisability occupations. CONCLUSION: This prospective case series suggests that chiropractic care may be a safe and helpful modality for the treatment of cervical and lumbar disc herniations
The body is dynamic and self-regulating. Your body is made to heal.
Dr. David Satterfield, Chiropractor