Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc is the result of two vertebrae being pinched together. As the vertebrae move closer together, pressure is placed on the small, fluid-filled disc that lies between them and acts as a cushion. As the pressure increases, the disc may be forced to protrude outside the bony ring of the vertebrae, resulting in what looks like a small hernia. This can also occur if the disc begins to weaken or lose fluid due to old age or a traumatic back injury. In some cases, the use of traction and gravity may provide some relief as they work to separate the vertebrae and provide the disc more room to move.

What is Mechanical Traction?

Mechanical traction and exercises that are used to alleviate pressure on the vertebrae through the use of stretching and gravitational pull can be extremely helpful when treating a herniated disc. The concept of traction is to relieve the pressure on the vertebrae by inverting the patient, either through manual traction or the use of an inversion table. When using an inversion table, the patient lies on their back and the table is gently tilted until their feet are several inches above their head. This allows gravity to gently separate the vertebrae by using the person’s own body weight to pull them apart. This relieves the pressure on the disc and allows it to return to its original place.

How are Herniated Discs Treated?

Herniated discs are treated in many ways. Manual or mechanical traction is used to relieve pressure on the discs by separating the vertebrae. Chiropractic adjustments can be used to help move vertebrae that have shifted out of their original position either by an injury or health condition. Deep tissue massage can also help when used in conjunction with a chiropractic adjustment. While the adjustment helps to bones to return to their original position, massage strengthens the muscles and soft tissue, providing the skeleton with the support it needs to remain in place and continue the healing process.