Chiropractor in Austin Chiropractic Explains Herniated Discs

What is a herniated disc? And how fast does it heal?

chiropractic clinic discusses herniated discs

There are several types of injuries that involve discs in the spine, but the worst one by far to experience is a herniated disc.

Prevention plays a crucial role in reducing the risk of developing a herniated disc. Maintaining good posture, practicing proper body mechanics when lifting heavy objects, engaging in regular exercise to strengthen the back and core muscles, and avoiding repetitive activities that strain the spine can all help in preventing disc herniation.

To understand the herniated disc, one must know the structure of the spine. The spine is a series of individual bones called vertebrae, which are stacked on top of one another. In between each vertebra is a disc, which acts as a cushion and allows for flexibility and movement of the spine. These discs have a tough outer layer called the annulus fibrosus, and a soft, jelly-like center called the nucleus pulposus.

A herniated disc, also known as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, happens when the tough outer layer of the disc becomes weakened or damaged, allowing part of the soft inner core to bulge out or rupture. This can happen due to various factors, such as age-related degeneration, repetitive strain, or sudden trauma. The bulging or ruptured disc can then press on nearby nerves, causing pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the affected area.

Most commonly occurring in the lower back (lumbar region) or the neck (cervical region, the severity of symptoms depends on the location and extent of the herniation. A herniated disc may go unnoticed or it can lead to debilitating pain that affects daily activities and mobility.

The symptoms of a herniated disc can vary from person to person and may include:

  • Pain: This is the most common symptom, which can range from a dull ache to a sharp, shooting pain. The pain can radiate to other areas such as the buttocks, legs, arms, or shoulders, depending on the location of the herniated disc.
  • Numbness and tingling: The pressure on nerves can lead to sensations of numbness or tingling in the affected area. For example, a herniated disc in the lower back may cause sciatica, which is characterized by numbness, tingling, or pain radiating down the leg.
  • Muscle weakness: If the nerves that control muscle movement are compressed, it can lead to weakness in the corresponding muscles. This can affect balance, coordination, and overall strength.
  • Changes in reflexes: Sometimes, a herniated disc can affect reflexes, causing them to be exaggerated or diminished.

It is a common misconception that a chiropractor will work to ‘pop’ your disc back into position, but that would be careless and dangerous. Another misconception is that your herniated disc can be repaired overnight. The fact is that treating a herniated disc takes time and expert care because any mistake can lead to long-lasting issues. Your chiropractor will not hesitate to refer you to a surgeon if necessary.

If you suffer from a herniated disc, these factors affect recovery time:

  • Severity of the herniation: The severity of the disc herniation plays a crucial role in determining the recovery period. A small, non-protruding herniation may be less problematic and may resolve more quickly compared to a larger, more protruding herniation.
  • Location of the herniation: The location of the herniated disc is another important factor. Disc herniations in the lower back (lumbar spine) and neck (cervical spine) are more common than those in the mid-back (thoracic spine). Recovery time can vary depending on the affected region, as different areas of the spine have different healing capabilities.
  • Age and overall health: Age and overall health can significantly impact recovery time. Younger individuals with relatively good health tend to recover more quickly due to their better healing capacity. Older individuals or those with underlying health conditions may experience a longer recovery period.
  • Treatment approach: The type of treatment pursued also plays a role in recovery time. Conservative non-surgical approaches, such as physical therapy, chiropractic care, rest, and medication, may take longer for complete recovery. On the other hand, surgical interventions may provide more immediate relief but could still require a period of rehabilitation.

Rest assured Dr. Gerard and the team at Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C. in Austin have the training to help you get back on the road to recovery. Feel free to contact us with any questions.

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9:00am - 1:00pm

9:00am - 1:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm

9:00am - 1:00pm


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Chiropractic Arts Center of Austin, P.C.

4131 Spicewood Springs Road #L-3
Austin, TX 78759

P: (512) 346-3536

F: (512) 346-5036