Bulging, herniated, or degenerative discs are fairly common conditions in today’s society. The damage to the disc then causes spinal compression (any excess pressure applied to the spinal cord) and often pinched nerves causing pain to radiate into the arm or leg (sciatica). It has long been thought that multiple factors contribute to these conditions including: poor sitting posture, faulty bending and lifting techniques, and trauma. Treatments for these conditions vary from physical therapy, chiropractic care, decompression therapy, spinal injection, and surgery. Surgery is the last resort and is often not recommended for low back disc issues if the leg pain is not worse than the back pain. Common practice is for all conservative measures (i.e. physical therapy, chiropractic care, spinal injections) be exhausted before considering surgery.
Decompression therapy has been shown to be a very effective treatment for degenerative, bulging, and herniated disc in both the cervical (neck) and lumbar (low back) spine. Decompression therapy gently distracts the spine, separating the vertebrae, to help restore the disc and take pressure off the nerve root. Studies have shown that for a single level herniated disc, there is a 82% success rate. Studies have also shown that if the patient feels relief from the initial treatment that success is probable.
Decompression therapy is also combined with exercises designed to strengthen the core muscles around the spine. The goal is to off load the spine and on load the muscles that are designed to support and protect it. Spinal stabilization and strengthening can be started immediately. Short term goals include lowering the patient’s pain by 50% within the first 2 weeks. Long term goals include minimizing the risk of re-occurrence or re-injury. The physicians at Apple Health & Wellness are available to consult with anyone wishing to consider this type of treatment.
Written by Dr Andy Hosenfeld, DC