For many years patients suffering from back pain caused by a bulging or herniated disc were sent straight to surgery. Recent studies have shown that surgery is not always the answer for disc problems and that in fact, other therapies are just as effective and sometimes more so. First, it’s important to understand how the discs work in our spine. Because our spine absorbs 60% of all the stresses the body is exposed to it was designed with its’ own shock absorber system. The “disc” is a pad made of a semi solid center (like silly putty) surrounded by tough fibers. Here are some facts:
- The disc holds water and receives nutrients by the movement of the spinal joints pushing water in and out of the disc.
- A healthy disc can withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure.
- When a disc gets dehydrated or worn down it cannot withstand as much pressure and may bulge or herniated out of its normal position.
Have you ever known anyone with a “slipped disc”? Have you had one?
When a disc bulges it can be very painful. Often, the symptoms include: back pain, pain shooting into the buttock or leg, numbness and tingling in the leg, or weakness. It is most common to have disc problems in the lower back but it can also occur in the neck and to a much lesser degree in the middle back.
Studies Show That…
Not long ago, the Journal of the American Medical Association published two studies that will change the way we look at back surgery forever! The studies compared more than a two thousand people who were experiencing nerve pain from herniated discs. The participants had one of the following: surgery, no treatment, chiropractic, medication, or physical therapy. The results were surprising: at the end of the study most people felt better whether they had surgery or not!
Why is this significant? In 2014, a quarter of a million people had disc surgery. Surgery exposes patients to risks like infection, bleeding, and nerve damage. There is less risk of dangerous side effects when you treat your body with noninvasive options.
A Safe Option for Treatment
Chiropractic care is one of the safest and most effective treatments for disc bulges. In fact, the risk of having a poor reaction to a lumbar adjustment is 1 in 3.7 million when the adjustment is performed by a chiropractor. Studies have also shown that low back pain patients treated with chiropractic recover faster and with less limitation to their activities when compared to patients treated surgically.
The most important thing to stress is that most back and disc injuries are very preventable. Use safe lifting and common sense to help you stay safe. It’s important to know that most cases of back pain and disc bulges don’t happen in an instant. They are a result of years of accumulated damage finally getting your spine to the “breaking point.” If you are having back pain to any degree it is important to have it assessed and treated so it doesn’t worsen.
The decision to have surgery or not is very important. You need to know it isn’t your only option. If you’d like to see if we can help, phone the office today for a consultation. We might be able to help you get back on track and healthy!