Chiropractic Care and Herniated Discs
A chiropractor can help address back pain and other herniated disc symptoms. At your initial appointment, your chiropractor will go through your medical history, do a physical exam, and perform orthopaedic and neurological tests.
Your chiropractor will look for several things. These are important questions the orthopaedic and neurological exams can help your chiropractor answer.
- Are the reflexes intact? That is: are your nerves sending messages correctly? (The classic reflex test is when the doctor taps your knee with a small hammer and your leg kicks up.)
- Is there loss of muscle strength or signs of muscle wasting?
- Is there loss of sensation along the path of a nerve?
The chiropractor will also carefully look at your posture, and he or she may order an X-ray or MRI, if necessary, to help with the diagnostic process.
Chiropractors evaluate the entire spine. Even if you only have lower back pain, your chiropractor will examine your neck, too, for example. He or she wants to see how well your spine is functioning overall, and remember: What happens in one area of your spine can influence other parts of your spine and/or body.
After reviewing this information, your chiropractor can determine if you have an intervertebral disc injury. The type of disc injury you have will determine what treatments your chiropractor will use to address your symptoms.
Some patients are not good candidates for some types of chiropractic care treatments. For example, if you have cauda equina syndrome (a condition in which you lose control of your bowel/bladder with an accompanying intervertebral disc injury), then you will need immediate medical care as this is something that cannot be treated by your chiropractor.
In addition, if your chiropractor finds that you have advanced loss of strength, sensation, reflexes, and other unusual neurological findings, then he or she will refer you to a spine surgeon.
However, most intervertebral disc injuries are related to a herniated disc, and your chiropractor can provide you with various treatment options to address your pain and other symptoms.
To treat a herniated disc, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that may include spinal manipulation—also known as adjustments—and other chiropractic techniques to help ease your herniated disc symptoms. This will be an individualized treatment plan, but it may include manual therapy and therapeutic exercises.
The specifics of what are in your treatment plan are particular to your pain, level of activity, overall health, and what your chiropractor thinks is best. As with any treatment option, don’t hesitate to ask questions about what chiropractic treatments are being recommended and why. You want to make sure you understand what will be done and how it can help relieve your pain. Chiropractice treatment is safe and effective for most patients.