Bulging & Herniated Disc Chiropractic Treatment Techniques

The Best Chiropractic Treatments for Bulging & Herniated Discs

Chiropractic care is a non-invasive, safe, and effective option for restoring misaligned vertebrae and treating pain associated with a bulging or slipped (herniated) disc. Bulging and herniated discs are caused by too much force being exerted on any one part of the spine. Between each vertebrae is a rubbery cushion, or intervertebral disc, that when we are young acts like a shock absorber taking the brunt of activity. As we age those discs lose their elasticity, begin to weaken from degeneration, and become susceptible to injury.  

Intervertebral discs are composed of a tough, rubbery outer membrane (annulus) surrounding a soft, jellylike center (nucleus). A bulging disc is when the outer annulus begins to bulge out of the vertebral space in a fairly even circumference. A herniated disc, often called a slipped disc, occurs when some of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the annulus to irritate the surrounding tissues and nerves. Herniated discs are more likely to cause pain because they generally protrude further than a bulging disc and impact nearby nerve roots. 

Bulging & Herniated Disc Chiropractic Treatment Techniques - Figure

Common symptoms relating to bulging or herniated discs:

  • Local or referred pain. Depending on the location of the herniated disc and whether or not it is pressing against a nerve root you may feel pain in the neck, mid-back, lower back, or sacrum that refers to a correlating extremity. For instance, if you have a herniation between your L4-L5 (low-back, lumbar region) then pain may refer to the buttocks, thigh, and calf. 
  • Numbness or tingling. Due to irritation of the nerve, people with a herniated disc often have localized or referred numbness, tingling, and/or radiating pain. 
  • Weakness. Muscle weakness can occur due to the compromised nerve(s). An example would be a loss of hand grip-strength due to a herniated disc in the neck. 

Once diagnosed correctly, bulging and herniated discs can be treated by chiropractors and their professional team of specialists through skeletal, muscular, and myofascial manipulations. The following treatment techniques show how a chiropractor near you that specializes in bulging or herniated discs can help restore function and alleviate pain.

How Can a Chiropractor Help a Bulging or Herniated Disc?

Chiropractors utilize a comprehensive report of your history, perform a physical examination and take digital images (x-rays or an MRI) to diagnose the specific type of disc problem you are experiencing. In addition to the medical analysis, they factor in your daily habits, physical activity levels, and health history to better understand your total-body health so that they can create an effective, personalized treatment plan. 

Spinal Adjustments

Once your condition is properly diagnosed, chiropractors have the ability to skillfully restore misaligned vertebrae and address herniated discs that are putting pressure on nearby nerves. The biomechanical adjustments can lessen pain associated with the compression, ease muscle spasms, promote nerve function once things are realigned, and give patients progressive mobility as their bodies continue to heal. Depending on your level of discomfort and the specific impingement, a chiropractor can apply anything from a gentle pressure to a more rigorous adjustment to help give you long term relief. 

Chiropractic Traction Therapy

A common cause of herniation is spinal compression, whereby the discs positioned between the vertebrae naturally become thinner and begin to pinch the nerves. Chiropractors can use traction to stretch, realign, and give more space within the vertebral column to alleviate the affected nerves. The purpose of these techniques is to reverse the natural effects gravity has on the spine and aid in realignment post an injury or accident.

Chiropractor vs Osteopath for Bulging or Herniated Disc Pain?

Chiropractors pay a great deal of attention to the biomechanics of the spine, and how its structure and function affects the neurological and musculoskeletal systems. They treat pain and help the body restore proper mobility and function through safe, controlled, and specific forces applied to the joints or muscles. Most modern day chiropractors have additional training in supportive musculoskeletal and myofascial therapies, such as ART® and the Graston Technique®, however traditionally their primary focus is on spinal alignment. 

Similar to chiropractors, osteopaths believe that spinal health influences our overall health and that by addressing alignment issues we can optimize our nervous system, improve blood flow to the body, and relieve pain. One difference is that osteopaths focus more on how all body systems are interrelated and dependent upon one another, vs focusing primarily on treatments as they relate to the spine. As a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) practitioners are able to prescribe medications and aim to treat a broader range of problems over a longer period of time. 

So which do you see for a bulging or herniated disc? Since chiropractors and osteopaths share similar philosophies and approaches to treatment both will be able to help. With that being said, the expertise and specialized focus on the spine that a chiropractor provides may resonate more with you and your ideas about treatment. We suggest making an appointment with a chiropractor near you to learn more ways they can alleviate pain associated with a bulging or herniated disc so that you experience long term results.