The vertebrae of the spine allow you to turn, twist, bend and perform many other tasks. In between the vertebrae are fluid-filled sacs known as “discs.” These provide cushion between the bones to prevent erosion, fractures and impact trauma.

What is a Herniated Disc?

The discs of your spine are round cushions that dip in slightly in the center. The outer cover of the disc may tear and allow the fluid to leak out. The gel-like fluid may place pressure on the nerves and cause inflammation. You may experience pain, tingling and numbness in your extremities. Your legs and arms may also feel weak. Some patients with herniated discs also experience bladder and bowel problems. In some cases, a herniated disc produces no symptoms.

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What Causes a Herniated Disc?

The most common cause of a herniated disc is a gradual degeneration of the outer shell. This may occur with age or due to overuse. Our spinal discs also naturally lose small amounts of the fluid as we get older. The discs become less flexible and can tear more easily.

Herniated discs also happen in people who use poor body mechanics, such as using the back muscles for lifting rather than the leg muscles. Turning or twisting your body during these activities may also herniate a disc. Trauma is another reason that people develop herniated discs.

You may be at higher risk for herniated discs if you:

  • Are overweight
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Work in an environment that requires you to lift or move heavy objects repetitively

How Can Integrative Medical Therapies Help with a Herniated Disc?

Herniated discs may be treated by opening the spine to allow the disc to slip back into place. We achieve this by performing spinal decompression. The technique expands the spine and realigns the vertebrae. You may need complementary therapies for inflammation and muscle tension.

How Can I Avoid a Herniated Disc?

You can take some measures to reduce your risk for herniated discs.

  1. Routine exercises that target the muscles in the lower back and along the spine help stabilize the vertebrae.
  2. Manage your weight through proper nutrition and an active lifestyle. This reduces the strain on the spine that is produced by carrying the weight of your body.
  3. Use good posture. Be cognizant of your body mechanics, especially when bending, lifting and twisting your body. If you sit for long periods of time, keep your back aligned and straight. Be sure to avoid hanging your head down and holding it forward of your shoulders. Standing for long periods of time can also place strain on your spine, so take frequent breaks to sit and rest.
  4. Patients who participate in sports should follow a routine of body conditioning to prevent injuries.

Herniated discs may develop suddenly or gradually. We offer non-surgical interventions for the condition that reduce your symptoms and reduce the likelihood of complications. If you are experiencing leg or arm pain, contact us to schedule a consultation and evaluation for a herniated disc.