Your discs play an integral role in supporting your spine and allowing a wide range of movement, which means they’re in the direct line of fire when it comes to back problems. One such problem — a herniated disc — can lead to moderate-to-severe pain, making even the slightest movement a teeth-gritting exercise.
Of the many conditions that we treat here at Mass Ave Chiropractic, herniated discs rank among the more common. Thankfully, our team, led by Dr. Joseph Kielur, has extensive experience helping our patients overcome herniated discs.
Here’s a look at what causes a herniated disc, what your risk factors are for developing one, and what we can do to help you find relief.
The role of your discs
To better understand a herniated disc, it’s helpful to first quickly review the anatomy of your spine. This foundational structure stretches from the base of your skull to your pelvis and contains 33 vertebrae that are separated by 23 discs.
Each of your discs is made up of a tough outer layer that houses a jelly-like substance on the inside, which is what allows them to provide cushioning and support in your spine.
The primary cause behind herniated discs
Many roads can lead to a herniated disc, but the exact mechanism behind the problem occurs when your disc ruptures or bulges out of its space, which irritates the highly sensitive nerve roots that branch out from your spine. This can lead to both local and radiating pain, depending upon the location and extent of the nerve compression.
The leading drivers of this problem are aging and wear-and-tear. As you grow older, your discs lose critical moisture content, which renders them more dry and brittle. They also lose some volume, which allows your vertebrae to creep closer together.
Called degenerative disc disease, this problem can lead to discs that rupture or leak out of their spaces. These disc problems typically affect your lumbar spine (lower back) and your cervical spine (your neck), which are the two areas along your spine that enjoy the most movement.
It’s important to note that herniated discs are rarely the result of an accident or trauma, but develop over time.
Risk factors for a herniated disc
Although degenerative disc disease may rob your discs of their moisture and flexibility, there are factors that can accelerate the breakdown, including:
- Obesity or carrying extra pounds
- Occupations or activities that stress your back
- Smoking — your discs get less oxygen
- Gender — men are twice as likely to develop a lumbar herniated disc
Of course, we include age in this list as the years of wear-and-tear add up and weaken your discs.
Treating your herniated disc
If we diagnose a herniated disc, our first goal is to relieve your pain and discomfort. For our frontline treatment, we turn to DRS Protocols™, which combine treatments such as spinal decompression, manual spinal or axial adjustments, and other therapies that we customize to meet your unique needs.
DRS stands for decompression, reduction, and stabilization — the three approaches that work best for treating a herniated disc. The goal of our treatments is to relieve the pressure on your discs and to encourage better flow of resources, such as oxygen.
Moving forward, we can work with you on reducing your risk factors to avoid a recurrence. As well, regular chiropractic treatments go a long way toward maintaining the health of your spine and preventing problems like herniated discs from developing.
To schedule your herniated disc care, please contact our office in Indianapolis, Indiana, to make an appointment.