A herniated disc can be painful and can interfere with your ability to do the things you want to do, but treatment options can be limited. The first line of treatment is usually painkillers and/or steroid injections. If the symptoms don't go away, decompression surgery is the next step, which can have complications and a long recovery time. Non-surgical spinal decompression can help to treat a herniated disc without resorting to invasive surgery.
What is a herniated disc?
Between the vertebra in your spine are discs made out of a rubbery material. These act as cushioning to stop the bones of your spine from crunching together when you move. Because of injury, age, or health conditions, the disc can become damaged and the material can start slipping or bulging out. This is known as a herniated, bulging, or slipped disc.
The bulging material can put pressure on your spinal nerve which can be painful. The pain tends to be in your back, neck, or legs, depending on where the herniated disc is located. And it tends to get worse when you move around and better when you are resting. You might also experience numbness or tingling because it interferes with nerve function.
Can chiropractic care help with a herniated disc?
Chiropractors can be trained in how to perform non-surgical spinal decompression, which can be an effective treatment for a herniated disc. It works using the same principle as traction therapy, but instead of the chiropractor manually stretching your spine, a computerized table is used to perform the action accurately and precisely.
The theory behind non-surgical spinal decompression is that stretching and then relaxing the spine in a controlled manner creates negative pressure between the vertebral discs. The negative pressure has two functions:
• causing the disc material to retract back into position
• promoting the movement of healing material such as water, oxygen, and nutrient-rich fluids into the disc
What to expect during non-surgical spinal decompression
Non-surgical spinal decompression is performed while you are fully clothed. You will lie down on a motorized table (on some tables this will be face down, on others, it will be face up) and a harness will be placed around your hips and attached to the lower part of the table.
Your chiropractor will have inputted the exact location of your herniated disc into the table's computer so that it can focus precisely on stretching the affected part of your spine.
The lower part of the table will move away from the upper part, gently stretching your spine. The stretching is in short cycles that last for around 30-60 seconds, with short periods of rest in-between, to avoid muscle soreness. And a session usually lasts for around 30 minutes.
You can expect to need around 20 sessions for a full course of treatment, depending on how severe your herniated disc is.
Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy is a non-invasive alternative to surgical decompression therapy that has very few side effects or complications and requires little-to-no recovery time.