Disc Injury Treatment: A Belmar, New Jersey Chiropractor’s Perspective

spinal disc injury

Up to 80% of all people suffer some sort of lower back pain in their life and it is the #1 cause of disability in workers around the country.  Lower Back Pain is commonly caused by a disc injury, something we have a lot of experience with at Kinney Chiropractic.  Discs in both the lumbar (low back) and cervical (neck) spine are most likely to get injured.  The thoracic spine’s discs don’t typically herniate because they have the added support of the ribcage.  

A spinal disc is the shock-absorbing cushion in between each spinal vertebrae.  It resembles a jelly doughnut with a fibrous outer ring called the annulus fibrosus and a jelly-like inner core called the nucleus pulposus.  The jelly-like nucleus is rich in fluid to maintain its shock-absorbing motion.  Our discs wear down over time and can become dehydrated.  The outer rings of the annulus fibrosus can tear, allowing the gelatinous nucleus to take the path of least resistance and work its way out of the disc.  This is a disc bulge.  If the nucleus is able to break completely through the outer ring of cartilage, it’s a herniation.  

Initial signs and symptoms of a disc injury can be immediate pain, lower back pain, muscle spasms, abnormal motion in the spine, and certain motions triggering pain.  As the injury gets worse, you can start to get more serious issues like pain in the extremities, the butt, or down the legs to the feet.  A cervical disc injury in the neck may start to produce pain in the shoulders, arms, hands, and fingers.  

Discs don’t herniate for no reason.  Abnormal motion in the spine, abnormal posture, old untreated accidents or injuries, and repetitive stress are some of the main causes of a disc injury.  A disc injury is a problem you want to address as soon as possible.  Correcting alignment issues and relieving abnormal stress on the spine and discs are of the utmost importance to prevent the injury from getting worse.  Painkillers and muscle relaxers may alleviate the pain temporarily, but they won’t be able to address the underlying structural problem.  

How We Treat Disc Injuries in Belmar, NJ

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam

We need to really listen to old injuries and postural imbalances and ask the right questions to try to figure out how the disc herniated.  We’ll use specific chiropractic, functional, orthopedic, range of motion, and neurological testing to determine the location and cause of the disc injury.  Getting to the root cause of the problem is always of the utmost importance.  Specific digital X-rays performed on-site will help us identify the spacing and alignment issues surrounding the injury.  The results of the consultation, exams, and X-rays will help us create the most specific and effective treatment for your unique situation.  

Specific Chiropractic Care in Belmar, NJ

One of the reasons why a disc may become herniated is uncorrected subluxations. If the spine shifts out of alignment and becomes locked or stuck in that abnormal alignment, it puts improper stress on the discs which can ultimately lead to its bulging or herniation.  That’s why correcting subluxations should be the first step in any disc injury treatment plan.  Chiropractic adjustments will relieve the stress on the disc, taking pressure off of the nerves and allowing the spine to function properly.  

Flexion-Distraction

Flexion-distraction is a technique that allows us to decompress the discs, relieving pressure on the nerves and stretching the deep paraspinal muscles.  Along with custom-designed exercises and stretches to address your specific injury and chiropractic adjustments, decompression is an excellent way to manage a herniated lumbar disc.  The exercises and stretches will help to reduce pain and strengthen the muscles that support the spine to prevent disc injuries in the future. 

Common Causes of Disc Injury in Belmar, NJ

Repetitive Stress Injury

Roofers, painters, mechanics, landscapers, and masons, manual laborers who are doing heavy lifting, heavy bending, repetitive overhead work, or are sitting for long periods either at a desk or in a vehicle, any job that involves a lot of flexion or rotation of the lumbar or cervical spine will expose themselves to a lot of stress that increases the risk of a disc herniation.  Stress to the spine accumulates over time and if the spine is out of alignment it doesn’t have to be a very traumatic event for the disc to herniate.  An insignificant movement like bending over to pick up a pencil or twisting to run on the light can cause an injury.  

repetitive disc stress
lifting disc injury

Heavy Lifting

At Kinney chiropractic, we care for a lot of athletes.  We’ve had heavy-weight lifters come in with disc injuries even though they thought they were lifting with proper form.  If the weight is too heavy even the smallest tweak to form can cause a herniation.  This is true of all major compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, overhead presses, or chest presses.  

Even if you are not a gym-goer, everyday lifting like moving furniture or lifting laundry baskets, if done improperly, can put abnormal stress on the lower back.  Improper technique or abnormal biomechanics increase the risk of a bulge or herniation.  Addressing weak core muscles that support healthy spinal structure is key to proper form and lower back safety. 

Auto Accidents

We see many herniated discs in the cervical spine after a whiplash injury.  When you get hit from behind in a car accident, the rapid extension and flexion of the neck can push disc material backward and cause a cervical disc herniation.  The force of the accident can also push the disc material onto the nerve roots causing debilitating pain.  At Kinney Chiropractic, we provide the care you need after a car accident to get you back to your pre-accident self.  We also work with your car insurance company and personal injury attorneys to make sure the process is smooth and stress-free. 

Degenerative Disc Disease

Degeneration of the discs is more prevalent among our older population and is associated with repetitive stress injuries.  Obesity, smoking, and manual labor increase the risk of degenerative disc disease where the discs shrink and become dehydrated.  A dehydrated disc is at greater risk for tearing which allows bulges and herniations to develop.  Degenerative disc disease cannot be reversed, but it can be slowed down with healthy chiropractic care.

FAQs

Can a chiropractor in Belmar, New Jersey help with disc injuries?

Yes. It’s important to figure out the specifics of your disc injury, whether it is a disc herniation or bulged disc, and get it addressed as soon as possible so it doesn’t get worse.

Is it safe to go to a chiropractor with a herniated disc?

Yes, chiropractic is very safe and effective in helping treat herniated discs in your neck and your lower back.

Can a chiropractor put a disc back into place?

No, chiropractic can’t help a disc go back into place. If the spine has been out of alignment for a long period of time, however, which is a cause of herniated discs, a chiropractor can apply proper stress and pressure back on those discs to restore healthy alignment and motion in the spine.  This will help reduce the severity of the disc injury.

What are the signs of a herniated disc in your neck or back?

The first sign is usually some sort of pain, tightness, or muscle spasm as the muscles try to protect the injured disc.  A herniated disc will cause radiating pain into the buttocks or down the legs or into the shoulders and down into the hands and fingers. If you feel any kind of radiating pain, you need to get to a chiropractor immediately.

Can a chiropractor fix a pinched nerve?

Yes, abnormal alignment of the spine puts undue pressure and pinching on a nerve.  We call this a subluxation.  Chiropractors specialize in reducing subluxations and reducing and improving the function of your spine by removing the pressure off of the nerves.