Do you ever find yourself asking, “is a herniated disc really that serious?” As Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified chiropractors, we often get this question. We understand that when it comes to the term ‘herniated disc’, many people don’t know what it means and how serious or not-so-serious their condition is. That’s why our answer is: It depends on which level of herniated disc you are experiencing, because its side effects can vary greatly for each individual case.
For some, a herniated disc can be debilitating and immobilize them completely; for others, the condition may remain undetected until they experience an unexpected back spasm or another associated symptom. To gain greater insight into what a herniated disc is and how it can affect your daily life (both short-term and long-term), keep reading!
What is a herniated disc?
While the phrase “herniated disc” may sound vague and misleading, it is not exactly what you might envision. Many of us perceive discs as a slippery or squishy substance that has shifted from its usual spot – but this isn’t necessarily true when discussing a herniated disc.
Your backbone is composed of bone and cartilage. We usually envision the vertebrae as a lengthy, ivory zipper-like structure. Between each stacked vertebrae lies a pad called disc which offers cushioning to ease shock absorption and flexibility. The discs are encased by cartilage that encloses a gelatinous substance providing further shock absorbency qualities within its walls.
The spine is an integral and remarkable structure of the human body, enabling us to move freely, hold our bodies uprightly and allowing for a properly functioning nervous system. Equally significant are the spinal discs that act as cushions between each vertebra while acting as anchors for our entire skeletal system.
When a disc becomes herniated, it interrupts the padding between two vertebrae of the spine. The cartilage that holds in its gelatinous component shifts and protrudes out of its designated location in the spinal canal, an injury that can cause a lot of negative side effects, considering there isn’t enough space outside this canal for other discs to fit.
When the disc slips out of its normal place in the spinal canal, it can cause inflammation and pain when coming into contact with nearby nerves and tissues. Herniated discs may also lead to other issues such as back spasms, muscle knots, weakness, a constant ache in your back or pain throughout your body, all incredibly unpleasant symptoms that are difficult to live with.
What do I do if I think I have a herniated disc?
Don’t let a herniated disc go untreated any longer. Without treatment, it could potentially lead to long-term nerve damage. You may not realize that out of the countless individuals who are suffering from this condition, many aren’t aware they have a herniated disc due to confusion with sciatica or subsequent pain radiating down their legs. Don’t take chances – if you think you have a herniated disc, make sure it is treated as soon as possible.
If you don’t seek treatment for a herniated disc in its early stages, the symptoms can become permanent. You may experience numbness, tingling sensations and sharp pain that come and go—particularly in your extremities (fingertips, toes). Don’t let these signs linger; take action to ensure they don’t become a long-term problem.
Receiving Treatment for Herniated Discs
Our Chiropractic BioPhysics®-certified chiropractors provide treatment for herniated discs daily. That’s because these disc issues are incredibly common–but contrary to popular belief, slipping a disc may not be an unexpected event or cause immediate pain or disablement. On the contrary, it can take place gradually over time rather than in one single instance.
Despite an incident of strain or injury only occurring on the odd occasion, it can cause a herniated disc flare-up that is both painful and uncomfortable. Typically, this is when people recognize something has gone wrong in their body.
Herniated Disc from Lifting
Repetitive lifts over a long period of time can cause the spinal discs to become displaced from the spine. The discomfort and pressure builds up bit by bit with every lift, until finally one particular motion causes an abrupt pain in your back, followed by spasms, weakness or numbness. It’s essential that you practice proper posture while lifting weights to avoid herniating a disc!
Herniated Disc from Bending
It’s also possible to herniate a disc from constant bending and twisting. This isn’t an instantaneous occurrence, however; if your spine is already out of alignment or you have poor posture while performing these movements repeatedly, the chances of slipping discs increase exponentially! Muscle weakness and structural imbalances in your back can exacerbate this issue even further. Therefore, it’s essential to practice mindful movement with good form as well as proper posture when bending over.
Herniated Disc from Sitting
You may be surprised to learn that something as seemingly innocuous as sitting can actually cause a herniated disc. Although it is true that typically, low-impact activities are not associated with this condition, herniated discs most often result from putting too much pressure on the spine and the spinal canal for an extended time. Poor posture while seated or inadequate lumbar support when in a chair tend to be frequent causes of such discomfort.
Herniated Disc from Running
Running, although not a major cause of herniated discs, can still lead to their occurrence if done improperly or more intensely than normal for regular runners who maintain at least 20 miles per week. For those with previously existing disc issues and running regularly, the form and intensity of runs may trigger an exacerbation or flare-up due to unresolved spine alignment problems. Thus, even though herniated discs are rare among recreational runners they should be aware that it is possible and take caution with how they run.
Herniated Disc from Falling
Falling is a frequent cause of herniated discs, even if the spine isn’t directly affected. When attempting to catch or cushion oneself from falling, it can cause the body to jerk and contort in peculiar positions that push spinal discs out of their natural place within the spinal canal. Afterwards, one may experience soreness and inflammation as an indication something went wrong with your back after a fall.
With time, the effects of an untreated herniated disc can manifest in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, and sharp pain. Furthermore, some people may experience a temporary lack of sensation in their fingers and toes. If you’ve ever heard someone say that they “have never been the same” after enduring a fall – this is likely due to an undiagnosed herniated disc!
Herniated Disc from Car Accident
Car crashes are a frequent trigger of herniated discs, often caused by the immense force from impact. This pressure can cause the spinal canal to compress and one or more discs may begin slipping out of position, leading to severe pain instantly or over time. Even minor car accidents have been known to lead to herniation due this compression that is placed on your spine.
Looking for relief from herniated discs?
If you’re suffering from back pain or neck pain, or radiating pain across your back, you may have a herniated disc. If that’s the case, you want pain relief. Use our directory to find a certified Chiropractic BioPhysics® chiropractor near you. Our system of chiropractor care combines spinal traction and mirror-image® adjustments to produce long-lasting changes in the shape of the spine, and most importantly, pain relief for you. Find a CBP®-certified chiropractor near you today.