Back pain, neck pain, and headaches are the three most common symptoms chiropractic treats. Some back pain is caused directly by a disc issue.
There are four levels of injury to a disc. All four can give you either severe, sharp, radiating, or referral pain or weakness and numbness. Three of the four can be corrected entirely with chiropractic adjustments, and the fourth one needs a referral to an orthopedic surgeon.
The level that you have can be determined by a series of steps. A good and thorough chiropractic, orthopedic and functional exam is the first step.
X-Rays also would be ordered to see the extent of bone and space issues, if any.
Lastly, an MRI would be ordered, but only depending on the level of the issue. We do not recommend CT scans because they are just not as definitive.
Level One: A pseudo-disc. This is that your back is locked up, you are in pain, but your exam determines that you do not have a real issue. Chiropractic uses the term subluxation, and it means less than a dislocation. There is a sprain/strain component to the area of the back, no different than an ankle but more serious because of the location. You are lucky if this is your diagnosis. You can go through a course of corrections that entirely change your life and prevent you from having a real disc issue.
In all truth, medications can be taken to relieve this issue at the moment, but the problem will never go away. It will become docile and worsen. Getting the disc treated now will save you time, money, and pain in the long term.
Level Two: A bulging disc. If you were to take an MRI of any individual regardless of whether they had symptoms are not, you are likely to see a disc bulge somewhere in their spine. This is because discs were designed to be shocked absorbers and function much like the tire of a car. The air in the tire must move around to absorb the movement of the car. This is a good thing. The problem is if the air, or in this case, the nucleus (jelly) of the disc, gets stuck. This happens more often if there is a level of degeneration: first-level degenerative disc disease, degenerative joint disease, and bone spurs. Nonetheless, the MRI looked the same the day before, but it is in pain now – and that is because it locked up and there is no movement in the area!!!! A series of chiropractic adjustments also resolve this issue, and staying on top reduces episodes of bulging discs.
Level Three: A herniated disc. This is by far the most painful of the four kinds, mostly because there is no easy resolution. A herniated disc means that the outer part of the disc has torn to some degree, and the body is producing a mass amount of inflammatory chemicals to alert you about this. The body does this to protect you, but you are still in pain and out of function. Studies have shown that in the first month, chiropractors have the best results for low back pain. If you have a true herniated disc, you are in it for the long haul. And by that, I mean months. You may have injured it in trauma, or it may be degenerated and full of osteoarthritis. Regardless, at this point, it is a bad injury. There is always radiating, sharpshooting, or referral pain. Worse yet, there is often weakness. An intense chiropractic treatment plan and following the course of action given by the doctors of chiropractic at Be Well will get you the results you want. You will need to bring your questions and concerns to the doctors so that you can work as a team to get through this.
Regarding surgery: Here is an example statement from a surgeon: Dr. Charles Rosen, MD, the clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, states: ‘An enormous number of back surgeries don’t give patients long term relief.” There is even a term for it: Failed Back Surgery Syndrome. In fact, sometimes, the worse the symptoms are, the more contra-indicated the surgery, new research shows.
Level Four: A sequestered disc. This is the only measurable successful surgery in the bunch. It means a piece of bone or other fragment has broken off and is floating in the cord area. This does need a surgical referral. It is so rare that at Be Well Chiropractic, we have only had one in nine years.