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Chiropractic Care for Herniated Disc

What is a herniated disc?

As a result of a tear or weakness in the tougher outer ring (the annulus fibrosus), the softer inner portion of an intervertebral disc (the nucleus pulposus) can protrude, causing a herniated disc, sometimes referred to as a slipped or ruptured disc.

Common Symptoms of Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc

Herniated discs do not always cause symptoms. They can be asymptomatic - it all depends on the size and location of the herniation and whether it presses on a nerve or has symptoms.


  • Cervical pain symptoms include neck, shoulder, arm, and hand pain.

  • Lumbar (lower back) pain typically occurs in the buttocks, thighs, and calves. Sometimes, it extends into the foot.

  • Herniations in the thoracic region (upper/mid-back) are less common but can cause pain in the chest and mid-back.

Numbness and tingling may happen in the leg due to herniated discs in the lower back.

Stumbling or impaired lifting and holding abilities can be caused by nerves pressing on the nerves, such as a herniated disc pressing on the sciatic nerve, leading to muscle weakness.

A herniated disc in the lumbar region presses on the sciatic nerve, resulting in a sharp, shooting pain that stretches between the buttock and the back of the leg.

Cauda equina syndrome (a rare medical emergency) occurs when a disc herniates in the spinal canal, causing several nerve roots to compress.

Chiropractic Care for Herniated Discs

Chiropractic treatment often relieves symptoms and improves function, but the herniated disc remains. Over time, many herniated discs may resolve or shrink in size, especially with a combination of treatments.

Chiropractors typically use spinal manipulation (adjustments) to treat their patients. Chiropractic adjustments can help improve spinal function and relieve nerve irritation.

The chiropractic flexion-distraction technique is a gentle, non-thrusting type of spinal manipulation. The patient lies on a special table, and the chiropractor uses a slowly pumping action on the disc to manipulate it.

A chiropractor uses cushioned wedges under the body to gently alter the alignment of the pelvis and lumbar spine.

Various physical therapies, including ultrasound, electric muscle stimulation, and infrared laser therapy, can reduce inflammation, muscle spasms, and pain.

Back muscles can be strengthened and flexed with rehabilitation and therapeutic exercises, which can help decrease pain and support the spine.

The chiropractor may give tips on using your body correctly while sitting, standing, lifting, sleeping, etc.

To manage inflammation, anti-inflammatory foods or supplements may be recommended.

Common Causes of Herniated Discs

Aging: With age, the discs in the spine lose hydration and become less flexible. This process, called disc degeneration, makes discs more susceptible to tearing or rupturing with even a minor strain or twist.

Physical Strain or Trauma: Lifting heavy objects with poor technique (twisting while lifting) can put too much pressure on the lower back and cause a disc to herniate. Sudden traumas, such as falls or car accidents, can also cause a herniation.

Repetitive Activities: Activities that place repeated stress on the spine, especially those involving lifting, bending, and twisting, can lead to a herniated disc over time.

Genetics: Some studies suggest that there may be a genetic predisposition to developing herniated discs.

Excessive Body Weight: Being overweight or obese stresses the lower back discs, making them more susceptible to herniation.

Poor Posture: Maintaining poor posture over time, especially when sitting for prolonged periods, can contribute to disc deterioration and increase the risk of herniation.

Smoking: Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to the disc, causing it to degenerate faster.

Vibration: Exposure to constant vibration might increase the risk.


Prevention involves maintaining a strong and flexible back, using proper body mechanics (e.g., lifting with the knees and not the back), managing body weight, avoiding smoking, and being mindful of posture. Regular exercise, including core-strengthening exercises, can also prevent herniated discs.

Holistic chiropractic care can relieve the pain of a herniated disc. Contact Dr. Jerry at Empire Chiropractic for a treatment plan - Upper Nyack, NY. 212-563-2966

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