disc injury, disc herniation, disc bulge

Find Out From An Amarillo Chiropractor If The Pain May Be A Disc Herniation

Chiropractor in Amarillo, Dr. Jeff Williams, lays it all out to help you decide if that pain is due to a disc bulge or a disc herniation

Jeff S. Williams, DC, FIANM
There are several reasons to suffer from spinal pain. The severity of spinal pain can run the gamut from minor aches to debilitating pain. Debilitating pain can hurt so bad you become nauseous. If you have ever suffered from that kind of pain, you know exactly what we mean. It can be difficult just to try to get yourself to the restroom.

That’s some serious pain.

These days, one of our first reflexes, when we hurt like this, is to take to the internet to find out exactly what is going on. We call this, ‘Visiting Dr. Google.’ As we all know by now, Dr. Google will have you all shopping for a funeral home and cemetery plot.
 
Dispensing advice on the internet can open one up to some level of liability. For this reason, it is important that Dr. Google tells you worst case scenarios as well as the minor things that could be wrong. Our point in this article is not to diagnose anyone from hundreds of miles away. Rather, we would like to provide you some general rules of thumb.
 
Rules that may be helpful in allowing you to decide which direction to proceed toward your recovery.
 
Here is the first rule of thumb we are going to give you. This rule is extremely important. If the pain in your back is causing you difficulty controlling bladder and bowel function, or you have ‘pins and needles’ and/or a numb feeling in the area that would come into contact with a saddle if you were to sit on one, then you need to go to the EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT quickly.
 
This condition is called Cauda Equina Syndrome. CES needs to be treated urgently at the hospital by medical professionals.

Signs of a disc bulge or disc herniation

Now that that's out of the way, here are some general ideas and rules of thumb when trying to decide what is causing back pain:
 
  • When talking about sitting, standing, or lying down, disc patients are typically most uncomfortable sitting and most comfortable lying down. When you lay down, you take the weight off of the discs. This allows a bulge or herniation to reduce so it can ease discomfort for disc patients.
  • Going from a seated to standing position can be difficult for disc patients.
  • The inability to raise both feet 6 inches while laying on the back for 30 seconds due to the pain can suggest a disc condition suggest issues from a disc. 
  • Pain when you cough, sneeze, or bear down can suggest a disc injury.
  • If when pointing to the pain, you point directly over the center of the spine as opposed to just off center or several inches to the right or left, then it may suggest a disc condition. If you would point just off center, it could suggest a facet problem. If you point more away from the center and down just a touch, it could be a sacroiliac (SI) joint. All can cause significant pain.
  • If you have pain, numbness, or tingling into one or both legs, it can be due to nerve root or disc issue. Several conditions can cause pain into the hips and certain aspects of the legs. But, as a general rule, the further the pain goes beyond the knee, the more likely you are dealing with a disc issue.
  • If it starts hurting in the first 1/3 of trunk flexion or first 1/3 of trunk extension, it could be a disc causing the pain.
  • If bending forward or backward causes the pain to peripheralize, you may be dealing with a herniated disc. Peripheralization means the movement causes the pain to spread out and run further into the hips, buttocks, or legs.
  • Pain that is helped with walking is a common characteristic of disc injuries
 
While there are certainly more generalities we could offer, these are a good way of guiding your thought process initially.
 

What If It’s A Disc Injury?

After going through this article, you may very well feel strongly you are suffering from a disc herniation or a disc bulge. That does NOT mean you should start shopping for a surgeon.
 
The only thing suspecting a disc should mean to you is that you should start shopping for a practitioner that is schooled at treating a disc bulge or disc herniation. A practitioner that treats discs safely, effectively, non-invasively, and conservatively.
 
Many doctors of chiropractic are highly skilled and capable of managing disc herniations safely through the use of not one treatment, but through the use of many treatments. Treatments such as gentle non-surgical spinal decompression, spinal manipulative therapy, targeted and specific exercise/rehab exercises, low-level laser treatments, myofascial muscle work, yoga classes, physiotherapeutic modalities, etc.
 
Chiropractic adjustments are just one tool of the chiropractor. It is but one tool in a whole garage full of tools. The best patient outcomes arise from a skillful selection of a combination of these tools.

The right tools fitting each individual patient. 

With the American College of Physicians now recommending spinal manipulative therapy as a first-line treatment for acute and chronic low back pain, it is clear where these disc patients should begin their journey to recovery.
 
In addition, I authored a research review for the American Chiropractic Association’s blog. In the article, I discussed a paper that proved spinal manipulative therapy is more effective than Diclofenac. Diclofenac is used for acute low back pain. You can read the article right here: https://www.acatoday.org/News-Publications/ACA-News-Archive/ArtMID/5721/ArticleID/340/Research-Review-Spinal-Manipulation-vs-NSAID-Diclofenac-for-Acute-Low-Back-Pain
 
To bolster our case against shots and surgery at the beginning of treatment, the literature has proved epidural injections to be mostly ineffective. And, if they do work at all, they are typically short-lived with no long-term effect at all.
 
When you combine this with the information that 56 million people suffer from low back pain and, ultimately, only about 5% of those people actually need any kind of surgery, the picture begins to become more clear.
 
We tell our patients all of the time, “Epidural injections, pain doctors, and surgery will always be there. They’re not going anywhere. So, it makes sense to have a trial run of safe, non-invasive, non-pharmacological means of treating your disc issue first. If we can’t get you there, we will find someone that hopefully can.”
 
That is about as fair and sensible as you can get.
 
*DISCLAIMER: the information in this article is not enough to diagnose your condition. Only a qualified healthcare provider can diagnose your condition accurately and only after performing a case history and an orthopedic/neurological exam. If you think you may be suffering from a disc herniation or simply have questions regarding your spinal pain, you should visit your healthcare professional immediately for further evaluation. 
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Dr. Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM is a Fellowship-trained Neuromusculoskeletal specialist and chiropractor in Amarillo, TX. As an Amarillo chiropractor, Dr. Williams treats chronic pain, disc pain, low back pain, neck pain, whiplash injuries, and more. Dr. Williams is also the host of The Chiropractic Forward Podcast (http://www.chiropracticforward.com). Through the podcast, Dr. Williams teaches fellow chiropractors and advocates weekly for evidence-based, patient-centered practice through current and relevant research. If you have any questions for Dr. Williams, feel free to email at [email protected]

Learn more about Dr. Williams and his practice at https://www.amarillochiropractor.com. Dr. Williams's full-time Amarillo chiropractic practice is Creek Stone Integrated Care at 3501 SW 45th St., Ste. T, Amarillo, TX 79109     

Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM

Jeff Williams, DC, FIANM

Owner/Chiropractor

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