Millions of people will experience back pain this year, and many of those cases will be due to swelling and inflammation of the spinal discs.
Not all neck and back pain problems are due to bulging or herniated discs, but when you are seeking out treatment for this problem, is chiropractic a possible solution? Should you consult with a chiropractor, or is surgery your only solution?
Chiropractic care is very effective as a herniated and bulging disc treatment, even though you may have heard otherwise. In our office, disc-related pain is very common and most patients seek relief within a few visits. Whether or not our office is the right choice for your disc problem is directly related to how long you’ve had the problem and the severity of the disc bulge or herniation.
When first evaluating a neck pain or low back pain patient to determine if we can help, we first rule out any conditions that may require surgery or a different type of healthcare practitioner to best help the patient. We will do this through a physical examination, and for this condition, it is likely that x-ray examination will also be needed.
If we determine that the patient can be treated conservatively, we’ll outline a treatment plan with a series of visits that will help alleviate the symptoms associated with the discogenic pain. Once beginning herniated or bulging disc treatment, we expect that the symptoms should show signs of improvement in a short period of time.
Our standards are that you should see at least a 50% improvement in the first two weeks. We’re looking for signs that the condition will improve using chiropractic adjustments and any additional modalities (like electrical stimulation or mechanical traction) we may incorporate as a part of your overall treatment plan.
If, for some reason, your condition does not improve or does not improve quickly, we will order an MRI examination of the area to determine the severity of the herniated or bulging disc. Generally speaking, if the herniation is less than 3mm, we will stay the course with our recommendations. If the measurement is 3 – 5mm, you will likely benefit from stronger anti-inflammatory medications in addition to your chiropractic care.
If your herniation is greater than 5mm, we will require that you get a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon, physical medicine, or neurosurgeon as a part of your care program. This does not necessarily mean that your condition will require surgery, but that you at least need to get an expert in this area to weigh in on your options.
Most often, they will recommend a steroid pack or injections before any surgery is considered. Thankfully, most patients will respond to these conservative measures and only a small percentage of patients will need surgery to alleviate their complaints.