Treating Disc Herniations with Sports Medicine Acupuncture
What is disc herniation?
Disc herniation (also called: Slipped Disc, Disc Protrusion, Bulging Discs, or in severe cases "Disc Sequestration") can be debilitating. They cause constant, dull, achy pain in the affected area of the spine that can radiate into the surrounding muscles on both sides like a band.
When the disc presses on a nerve it can cause radiculopathy which is a nerve-like sensation (electric, burning, numbness and tingling, dull achy pain) that zips down the leg (for lumbar disc herniation, often called sciatica) or down the arm (for cervical disc herniation).
At San Diego Sports Acupuncture, we treat all types of lower back and neck pain. Disc herniation is one of the most common causes of pain in these areas. We are now going to explain more about disc herniation and our unique approach to treating disc herniation.
How common is disc herniation?
Discs can become irritated and begin to bulge for several reasons. Over 85% of the population will experience degeneration of their spine from the natural processes of aging by the age of 60 and this degeneration can lead to disc herniation.
What causes disc herniation?
Disc herniation can also be caused by repeated heavy lifting or lifting loads with poor mechanics and form. The most vulnerable position for a disc is when the spine is in flexion (for instance, bending over). This "opens up" the space just behind the disc. If you now add a vertical force on the top of the disc (for instance, picking something up), it can cause the disc to bulge into the open space. Once this happens the area becomes very inflamed and painful. The body, in all of its infinite wisdom, responds to this pain and inflammation by tightening the deep paraspinal muscles that connect each vertebra to each other.
Unfortunately, this often has the effect of squeezing the vertebrae together, putting even more pressure on the damaged disc, and making the pain significantly worse.
In the above image the vertebrae are drawn in black, the discs are drawn in pink, and the deep paraspinal muscles are drawn in orange.
How do we treat disc herniation?
Our approach is uniquely suited to treating herniated discs. Using Sports Medicine Acupuncture®, we can stimulate the "reset button" built into each of the deep paraspinal muscles of the spine and trick those muscles into letting go and relaxing. Once the muscles relax a lot of pressure can be taken off the disc right away.
We also analyze the angle and tilt of your hips and shoulders to treat any surrounding muscles in your core that are not firing correctly. Then, we will teach you exercises to balance your posture and protect your spine.
Earlier I mentioned the most vulnerable position for a disc is when the spine is in flexion. But you can imagine the problems caused by your hips or shoulders being rotated too far in one direction. The space just behind the disc can be "stuck" open even when you're standing perfectly straight!
Finally, we may utilize topical herbal liniments to help further reduce pain and inflammation in the area and PNF stretches or traction to really help open up the spine and encourage the surrounding muscles to relax and the disc to retract back into the correct space.
The worst I have ever treated was a 13mm disc herniation. This herniation was so severe the orthopedic doctor asked the patient how she was even able to walk into his treatment room. The nerves in that area were completely occluded on the MRI, meaning you couldn't see them because they were totally buried by the disc.
This was not an easy case and it took time, but with patience and discipline, eventually this patient was able to live a completely normal life, pain free, and without needing surgery. The one caveat is that she was no longer able to do backbends in yoga, every time she tried it would cause too much irritation and set her back. But the constant, severe, achy pain that she felt in her lower back and glute when she was sitting or standing did eventually completely disappear.
Contact San Diego Sports Acupuncture to treat your disc herniation!
One of the greatest predictors of success with any form of therapy is treating the injury or ailment as soon as it occurs. If you're suffering from low back or neck pain for longer than a couple days, don't keep waiting to see if it will go away! Come in and let us do a full assessment and treat it while it's still fresh!
We are not a "keep coming back forever" type of clinic, we will do everything in our power to address your issue, get you back to 100% as quickly as possible, and send you on your way so you can tell others about your positive experience and get back to living your life.