Herniated Discs &
Spinal Decompression Therapy
How do Herniated Discs Form?
There are two general types of spinal disc problems used by physicians when describing pain: herniated discs or pinched nerves (also known as bulging discs, slipped discs) which can cause neck, back, arm, or leg pain. When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, the disc itself is not painful, but rather the leaking disc is pinching a nerve. A spinal disk is a little like a jelly donut, with a softer center encased within a tougher exterior. Sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when some of the softer "jelly" pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior. This produces pain called radicular pain (nerve root pain) leading to pain that may be referred to other parts of the body, such as from the low back down the leg or from the neck down the arm. Leg pain from a pinched nerve is usually described as sciatica.
The pain that patients experiences from herniated discs can often be attributed to the spine asserting pressure on discs.The problem is often perpetuated because the compressed disc restricts the flow of nutrients to itself which is needed to heal.
Common Causes of Herniated Discs
Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of disc herniation. A disc can rupture suddenly when too much pressure is applied to it all at once. For example, falling from a ladder and landing in a sitting position can cause a great amount of force on the spine. Bending puts a large amount of stress on the discs between each vertebra. If you bend and try to lift something that is too heavy, the force can also cause a disc to rupture.
Life style choices such as smoking, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health. Poor posture, daily wear and tear, injury or trauma, and incorrect lifting or twisting further stress the disc. If the disc is already weakened, it may herniate with a single movement or strain such as coughing or bending to pick up a pencil.
Non-surgical Treatment: Spinal Decompression
Spinal Decompression is a therapy used by Chiropractors to treat these conditions and provide pain relief. The therapy is FDA approved, and was originally developed and pioneered by Dr. Allan Dyer, PhD, MD in 1985 with the first non-surgical spinal decompression table introduced by him in 1991. At NOVA Chiropractic, Dr. Sullivan offers non-surgical decompression therapy though a Spinal Decompression Table. The table can perform lumbar (lower back) and cervical (neck) decompression, and is used on approximately 60% of current patients.
How Does It Work?
Non-surgical spinal decompression therapy gently stretches or decompressing the spine. It is a non-invasive, non-surgical, drug-free alternative treatment. Spinal decompression therapy is achieved through the use of a mechanical traction device applied through an on-board computer that controls the force and angle of disc distraction, which reduces the body's natural propensity to resist external force and/or generate muscle spasm. It is commonly used to treat neck and back conditions such as herniated discs and pinched nerves.