PA Chiropractic

Herniated Disc Injury

What is the spinal disc?

The spinal disc is a cushion that sits between each vertebrae of the spine.

What happens with a ‘herniated disc’?

As the spinal disc becomes less elastic, it can rupture. When the disc ruptures, a portion of the spinal disc pushes outside its normal boundary–this is called a herniated disc. When a herniated disc bulges out from between the vertebrae, the spinal nerves and spinal cord can become pinched.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

When the spinal cord or spinal nerves become compressed, they don’t work properly. This means that abnormal signals may get passed from the compressed nerves, or signals may not get passed at all. Common symptoms of a herniated disc include:

  • Electric Shock Pain
    Pressure on the nerve can cause abnormal sensations, commonly experienced as electric shock pains. When the compression occurs in the cervical (neck) region, the shocks go down your arms, when the compression is in the lumbar (low back) region, the shocks go down your legs.
  • Tingling and Numbness
    Patients often have abnormal sensations such as tingling, numbness, or pins and needles. These symptoms may be experienced in the same region as painful electric shock sensations.
  • Muscle Weakness
    Because of the nerve irritation, signals from the brain may be interrupted causing muscle weakness.
  • Bowel or Bladder Problems
    These symptoms are important because it may be a sign of cauda equina syndrome, a possible condition resulting from a herniated disc. This is a medical emergency, and you should see your doctor immediately if you have problems urinating, having bowel movements, or if you have numbness around your genitals.

All of these symptoms are due to the irritation of the nerve from the herniated disc. By interfering with the pathway by which signals are sent from your brain out to your extremities and back to the brain, all of these symptoms can be caused by a herniated disc pressing against the nerves.

How is the diagnosis of a herniated disc made?

Most often, your physician can make the diagnosis of a herniated disc by physical examination. By testing sensation, muscle strength, and reflexes, your physician can often establish the diagnosis of a herniated disc. An MRI is commonly used to aid in making the diagnosis of a herniated disc.

Making the diagnosis of a herniated disc, and coming up with a treatment plan depends on the symptoms experienced by the patient, the physical examination findings, and the x-ray and MRI results. Only once this information is put together can a reasonable treatment plan be considered.

The Research

Almost 50 years of research, experience and technology have contributed to the development and evolution of specific conservative treatment for disc disease. One of the leading pioneers is Dr. James Cox, a leading researcher and well renown physician. To this day chiropractors, engineers and researchers continue to document its benefits. The latest findings of a federally funded research project at the National University of Health Sciences, Palmer Research Center, and Loyola Stritch School of Medicine/Hines VA show that Cox technique allows for safe and natural increase in disc height and nerve spacing. Dr. Tucker was fortunate enough to train and certify in this technique with Dr. Cox directly.

Research articles include success with radiating pain, hip pain, sciatic nerve damage, cyst related pain, testicular pain and more. MRI pre and post treatment has revealed reduction in disc herniation size (JMPT, Vol. 19, no 9).

According to another research project (Johnson, Arch Phys Med Rehabil 1981) less than 5% of patients with low back and leg pain require surgery. Making this treatment option a successful and more importantly, safe initial treatment option.

In another randomized, clinical trial funded by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration, patients with radiating pain did significantly better with flexion/distraction technique.  Overall, this treatment provided more pain relief than active exercise. (European Spine Journal 2006:15)

In addition to a multitude of research, many of the individual case studies we have in our clinic continue to provide daily successes.  Cases that are considered “surgical candidates” improve and reach full resolution.

Treatment for Spinal Disc Problems

Specific Chiropractic techniques can re-absorb some of the herniated disc material. Dr. Tucker is certified in a post-gradual technique that is safe and gentle, which is geared to treat disc problems without drugs, injections or surgery. Cox Flexion-Distraction and Decompression is a non-surgical, doctor-controlled, hands-on specially designed chiropractic technique. This instrument permits the effective administration of flexion-distraction and decompression adjustment and manipulation. There is no twisting to this treatment.

Well researched and documented, flexion-distraction and decompression helps relieve spinal pain and return patients to their desired quality of life by …

  • dropping intradiscal pressure to as low as -192mm Hg
  • widening the spinal canal foraminal area by 28%
  • reducing pressure on the spinal nerves
  • returning motion to the spinal joints

The goal of Cox Technic is to help the spinal pain patient go from “pain” to “no pain” as quickly as possible following the “rule of 50%” which governs the Cox Technic System of Spinal Pain Management.

Evidence based Cox Technic is appropriate for conditions causing low back and leg pain as well as neck and arm pain. It also reduces pain attributable to …

  • disc herniation
  • a slipped disc
  • a ruptured disc
  • facet syndrome
  • stenosis
  • spondylolisthesis
  • other conditions