The spine is responsible for our level of comfort, our level of mobility, and our level of strength. Spinal injuries are very common, especially as we age. Things like car accidents, having children, or even poor posture can cause bulging and herniated discs. These discs are located in the lower back, and when they slip or protrude from their standard position, they can cause an enormous amount of pain. Some common symptoms that come from bulging discs are pain and tingling throughout the entire upper body, muscle spasms, and lower back discomfort or pain. If you suffer with this condition, then a chiropractor may be able to fix a bulging disc and relieve your pain.
Things like bulging/protruding discs greatly impact spine health, and they also greatly impact our quality of life. Oftentimes, the pain from herniated or bulging discs causes people to seek extreme pain management options such as narcotics or surgical intervention. Before it gets to that point, primary care physicians may recommend a “conservative” treatment option: a chiropractor. But can chiropractors actually help? The answer is yes. In this short article, we’re going to go into a brief discussion of what it is chiropractors do for bulging discs and what you can expect when you go in for a visit.
What to Expect During Your First Appointment
Your first appointment with a chiropractor is used for assessment and diagnosis. Some offices may require x-rays in the beginning so they can see what’s going on. They’ll make sure they feel confident in treating your disc. They will typically examine your neck and your spine to make sure there are no injuries they’re missing. This allows them to properly treat you.
If they do, they’ll move forward into a treatment plan – typically involving spinal manipulation. This plan of action is designed to set goals for a pain-free future. Throughout the course of designing your treatment plan, your chiropractor may give you other recommendations such as sleeping positions and light exercise. If the disc is causing you a tremendous amount of pain, they may recommend a small period of rest before any kind of spine manipulation or physical therapy.
All of this is completely non-invasive. You won’t feel pain during this initial visit, it is simply to assess where you are with your spinal health. The chiropractor will then set up your next appointment so you can begin your therapy. Chiropractors are not only knowledgeable, but they’re known for their deep level of commitment to their patients. Your chiropractor should be with you throughout the entire process – from the first assessment to the last treatment.
What Can a Chiropractor Do to Fix a Bulging Disc?
Part of your original assessment is what is called a “pressure point analysis.” This allows the chiropractor to assess exactly where your pain is coming from so that they can figure out where to start treating it. Your chiropractor will check for three main things: whether or not the spinal reflexes are intact, whether or not there is muscle strength or atrophy, and whether or not there is a loss of sensation along the nerve path. Depending on the damage, a chiropractor will do one of three things:
- Manipulation under anesthesia
- Pelvic blocking techniques
Flexion-distraction is the technique that is most commonly used because it is typically associated with little-to-no pain. The point of flexion-distraction is to help in moving the disc away from the nerve, reducing sensitivity. Basically, they use a special table and work to “pump” the affected area with their hands. With the right talent and expertise, this can greatly reduce pain. It can cause people who are immobile to stand upright again within an hour. The downside of this method is that it isn’t always a permanent fix, and you may have to go back in for more adjustments (how many times you need to go back depends on the injury).
Pelvic blocking techniques are also non-invasive, and they usually involve using pillow-like wedges underneath the pelvis.
Finally, when looking at manipulation under anesthesia, you’re looking at a very short duration of sleep — typically around 6-10 minutes. This usually takes place in a hospital setting, and the chiropractor will stretch/manipulate the spine during that time to reduce discomfort. This is usually something that takes 3-4 sessions over a period of 6-8 weeks.
Complete Bulging Disc Treatment with Physical Therapy
Lastly, all of these techniques require some physical therapy after they’re implemented. Your chiropractor will guide you through all of the right kinds of exercises to help you get back on your feet and strengthen your spine. While you’re in the office, your chiropractor might even have you walk up and down the hallways during the treatment so he/she can gauge your progress. If all goes well, you should be able to stand upright after the first one or two sessions, and your pain should be greatly reduced.
Going to a chiropractor for something as sensitive and scary as back pain can seem overwhelming. Especially if you’re worried about not using any kind of pain medication. Pain medication (especially narcotics) can cause a myriad of side-effects, including addiction, nausea and vomiting, migraines and headaches, and anxiety or depression. Avoiding these medications is an incredibly smart move, and choosing a chiropractor is a fantastic alternative. If you think seeing a chiropractor is right for you, give A Family Chiropractic Clinic a call at 940-566-0000. They will be able to answer any of your questions and get you on the path to a pain-free life. Remember that when you go to a chiropractor, their goal is to help your existing pain by using non-invasive techniques that should cause little-to-no pain at all.
Lastly, if your pain doesn’t go away after these non-invasive treatments, your chiropractor will work to find you the right pain management specialist or surgeon. As mentioned earlier, a chiropractor’s job is to help. If they can’t help you, they’ll find someone who can. They will be with you from beginning to end. Trying a chiropractor before heading to a spinal surgeon is a great idea because you have nothing to lose!