Can a Chiropractor Help a Herniated Disc?


The vertebrae that compose the spine in your back are cushioned or protected by discs. Each disc has a round shape. It is similar to little pillows with a robust outer layer (annulus) that encompasses the nucleus. These discs work as shock absorbers for the spine's bones, positioned in-between each vertebra in your spinal column.

What Is A Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is also known as slipped, bulged, or ruptured disc. It is a small fragment of the disc nucleus that is getting pressed out of the annulus. Then, it goes into the spinal canal through a rupture or tears in the annulus. When discs become herniated, it means they are usually in the early stages of degeneration.

The spinal canal has minimal space. In other words, it is inadequate for both the displaced herniated disc fragment and the spinal nerve. As a result, this displacement causes the disc to exert pressure on the spinal nerves, often producing excruciating pain.

Symptoms of A Herniated Disc

In many cases, the first symptom is low back pain, and this pain may last for a few days. Other symptoms include the following: 

  • Sciatica It is a very sharp, frequently shooting pain that radiates from your buttock down to the back of one leg. It is usually due to pressure on the spinal nerve.
  • Weakness in the leg or foot, sometimes both
  • Numbness or a tingling feeling affecting the leg or foot
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control It happens rarely and may signify a more serious health problem called cauda equina syndrome. It is a condition caused by the spinal nerve roots getting compressed. This one requires immediate medical care.

Quick Facts About Herniated Discs

Herniated discs can occur in any region of the spine. However, they frequently appear in the lower back (lumbar spine), and sometimes in the neck (cervical spine). The area in which pain originates usually depends on which part of the spine is affected.

  • A herniated disc is a widespread cause of sciatica.
  • Many people experience leg pain and low back pain due to a herniated disc.
  • Even when a herniated disc causes severe pain, most individuals will feel much better after a few weeks of non-surgical care. 

What Causes A Herniated Disc? 

A herniated disk most often occurs due to:

  • Age-related wear and tear on the spine (disc degeneration)
  • It can be due to a traumatic incident, such as a slipping, sliding, or falling accident.

In children and young adults, their discs have high water content. However, as people become older, the water content in their discs becomes less. As a result, the discs become less flexible. Further, these discs start to shrink, and the spaces in between the vertebrae become narrow. Finally, the normal aging process affects the discs causing them to suffer a hernia.

What Are Risk Factors Involved?

Certain factors increase the risk of you getting a herniated disc. These are:

  • Repetitive activities that strain the spine and back muscles Many physically intensive jobs are demanding. Most would require regular lifting, bending, pulling, or twisting from you. However, be mindful of how you lift. Practice safe and proper lifting and movement techniques to protect your spine.
  • Improper lifting Using only your back muscles instead of your legs and core muscles to lift heavy objects can be grounds for a herniated disk. Twisting your back while you lift can also make your spine vulnerable. To lift correctly, use as much of your legs, arms, and core muscles to protect your spine and distribute weight evenly. 
  • Frequent and prolonged driving When you stay seated for prolonged periods, you are prone to causing excess pressure on your spine and disks.
  • Overweight Being overweight can put more stress and pressure on the disks in your lower back.
  • Smoking Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the disks, and it also accelerates disc degeneration.
  • A sedentary lifestyle It is essential to have regular exercise because it helps prevent various health problems, including a herniated disk, back pain, and neck pain. 
  • Gender Most men aged 20 to 50 years old are prone to have a herniated disk.

Can a Chiropractor Help a Herniated Disc?The Answer

An upper cervical chiropractor can help deal with back pain and other herniated disc symptoms. Upper cervical chiropractic will help reduce your pain and get to the root cause of your health problems. Here’s how:

  • The chiropractor will go through your medical history. Then, he/she will conduct a physical exam and do orthopedic and neurological tests. Is there a loss of muscle strength? Are your reflexes undamaged? Is there loss of sensation alongside the path of your nerve? He/She will get the answers. 
  • Your posture will get an evaluation. An X-ray or MRI may get drawn, if needed, to help with the diagnostic process.
  • The upper cervical chiropractor will evaluate your entire spine or examine your neck even if you only have lower back pain.

Your upper cervical chiropractor will want to see how well your spine functions overall, and remember: What occurs in one area of your spine can influence other parts of your body and spine.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic and Herniated Discs

Upper cervical chiropractors will always look for the root cause of your condition. If it is due to a misalignment in the first bones of your upper cervical spine, the C1 and C2 vertebrae, an upper cervical chiropractor will look into this area.

To care for a herniated disc properly, your chiropractor will develop an upper cervical care plan that may include spinal adjustments and other chiropractic procedures to alleviate your herniated disc pains and symptoms. It will be a personally tailored adjustment, which involves individualized therapy and therapeutic exercises. Chiropractic adjustments are safe and effective for most patients.

To answer the question: can a chiropractor help a herniated disc? The answer is yes. An upper cervical chiropractor can help you find relief from pain. Upper cervical care is natural (no drugs involved), low-force, and very precise. The procedure is gentle and safe.

You can search for an upper cervical chiropractor near you today by utilizing our search tool.

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.