The little pads that lie between your vertebrae are called intervertebral discs. These discs have a tough outer ring and a soft gel-like center. Your disc’s job is to join and separate your vertebrae from one another. These discs act as spacers, creating a space for your nerves to exit from your spinal cord to serve your body parts. The discs also allow you to move, bend, twist, etc.
There are several disc injuries that make movements of the upper torso painful and difficult:
- Bulging or Protruding Disc: when the disc becomes asymmetrical and the gel-like nucleus pushes on the outer cartilaginous ring causing bulging.
- Herniated Disc: when the disc material has ruptured to the point that the gel-like nucleus pushes outward and escapes from the disc. The herniation may or may not directly affect the nerves. We can often address a herniated disc with conservative care (chiropractic, exercises/rehab, etc.). Surgical intervention may be called for if the herniation is severe enough and not responding to conservative care.
- Disc Extrusion: the worst type of disc injury. This is when the nucleus balloons extensively into the area outside the vertebrae or breaks off from the disc, which may cause severe neurological damage and often requires surgical intervention.
All of the above disc injuries tend to result in considerable back pain, numbness, burning, and limitation in range of motion due to the irritation of the nerve roots at the point where the injury occurs and the impact this has on the surrounding tissues. Several distressing symptoms can arise from this nerve irritation and damage, including but not limited to:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Weakness in the legs or feet or down the arm if originating from the neck
- Leg and foot pain, numbness and tingling (also known as sciatica)
- Loss of bladder or bowel control (severe, medical emergency)
If you have a suspicion that your chronic back, hip, or leg pain is being caused by a disc injury, or you have received a diagnosis that confirms you are dealing with a disc injury issue, you will certainly benefit from a thorough evaluation by a great chiropractor.
Whether the pain and symptoms are mild or severe, it is important to deal with it promptly so that the issue does not progress and cause more permanent damage. The following article discusses some of the symptoms of disc injuries to help you understand what you are dealing with and your options to care for it properly. We will also cover how upper cervical and neurologically based chiropractic care, along with non-invasive therapy, may give you immediate relief from the pain and discomfort associated with a disc injury and maximize long-term recovery and stability.
Complimentary Disc Injury Consultation
We’d love to meet you for a 15-20 minute session with a doctor to get your story, conduct any preliminary tests, and see if we can help you. If so, great, if not, we’ll help you find the place that can.
How Our Disc Injury Care Plan Works
1. Real Answers
You have a story and we want to hear it. We want to understand you. If we feel we can help, we’ll complete a very detailed exam–unlike anything you’ve done anywhere else to get to the root of the problem.
2. Real Solutions
Once we’ve gotten to the bottom of things–the root cause–we’ll tailor-make a program of care first to stop the damage and turn things around, then continue to move your health and function in a constructive direction.
3. Real Life
At the end of the day, you want your quality of life back. Better. Stronger. Healthier. We desire to help you achieve the life that God has called you to–getting you back to your sense of purpose and joy.
How We Treat Disc Injury With Upper Cervical Care in Mount Dora, FL
Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
The doctor and team will first do a consultation and preliminary evaluation (complimentary) to ensure you’re in the right place, and we can help you. If so, we’ll do a much deeper dive into your condition and how it’s affecting your life. Once we understand you clearly, we’ll thoroughly examine your spine and nervous system utilizing chiropractic, functional, and neurologic testing to find the root cause of the problem(s).
CBCT (3D Panoramic X-ray) and Motion Study X-rays
Once we’ve determined that you are a good candidate for care and we can help you, we will likely need to take very specific forms of imaging to pinpoint the problem (unless you are pregnant). We want to get a good look at the curves of the spine, the alignment (or lack thereof), any degenerative changes, contraindications to care, and ultimately find out EXACTLY what we need to do for you to get better.
*Depending on the findings, we may need to refer out for an MRI to get conclusive answers and the severity of the damage.
Specific Chiropractic Care
At our family-oriented practice in Mount Dora, we provide a specific and unique form of chiropractic care that is very precise, extremely effective, and incredibly gentle. In fact, there is no twisting or “cracking” of your spine. Utilizing a form of care known as Blair Upper Cervical, which focuses on the top two bones in the neck, where your head and neck come together, tends to yield uncommon results due to the neurological influence of this critical area of your spine. We add a supportive type of adjusting for the rest of your spine known as TRT (Torque Release Technique). This is also an exact, effective, yet gentle instrument-based technique that produces fantastic results.
When the joints of your spine are misaligned, it puts pressure on the joints and, more importantly, on your nervous system—known as a subluxation—which may cause pain and affect your global spinal alignment and health. Your specific adjustments aim to reduce the subluxations, taking pressure off your spinal joints, nervous system, and vasculature, reducing nerve tension, and improving blood and CSF flow so your body can self-heal the way it was created.
Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
Depending on your particular case, we will design a custom rehab/exercise plan to help you recover quicker and, most importantly, attain lasting results. Your unique exercise plan aims to help restore global spinal imbalances, address muscle weakness, increase range of motion, and improve your posture. We also aim to keep it simple—so you can do it at home quickly. If you are a severe case, we may refer you for physical therapy aimed at a more tailored and monitored exercise rehab to complement your upper cervical chiropractic care.
SoftWave TRT (Tissue Regenerative Technologies)
Shockwave Therapy, or Extracorporeal Shockwave Therapy (EWST), is a non-invasive treatment that involves the delivery of shock waves to an injured area to promote healing. This treatment produces highly effective shock waves that initiate biological regeneration processes at the cellular level.
Treatment involves technology that applies short, frequent, and high-intensity bursts of mechanical energy (in the form of a shockwave) into soft tissue that is injured, scarred, or contains adhesions, is painful, or inflamed.
SoftWave triggers a cellular response upon delivery that activates the body’s natural healing process. Patients experience the transformative benefits, including:
- Increased blood supply (promotes healing)
- Promotion of angiogenesis (new blood vessels)
- Modulation of inflammation (pain reduction)
- Activation of resident stem cells (generates new tissue)
- Restoration of tissue elasticity (healthier tissues)
- Endogenous growth factor activation (improved wound healing)
Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care
At Mount Dora Family Chiropractic, our specialty focuses on the upper spinal region where the head and neck join. It is well known that a concussion can misalign vertebrae in the neck due to the traumatic forces generally affecting the head and neck. The top two bones in the neck are scientifically and very precisely analyzed (known as the atlas (C1) and axis (C2) vertebrae). Doctors of Upper Cervical Chiropractic understand that misalignments or subluxations in this part of the spine can interfere with normal nerve pathways, cranial blood, and CSF flow, thus affecting various body systems which may cause or contribute to various health conditions following a concussion. Furthermore, subluxations left undetected and uncorrected may prevent full recovery and cause chronic health conditions in the long term.
Of course, this doesn’t mean we ignore the other parts of the spine, as there may also be damage or misalignments that we must address. Upper Cervical Chiropractic doctors simply acknowledge that without properly addressing this area, care in other areas of the spine will be far less effective and short-lived since the entire spine will continue to compensate due to the upper cervical misalignment that has not been properly assessed and corrected.
Upper Cervical Chiropractic care aims to realign the upper cervical vertebrae to restore proper nerve function and promote overall health. This form of care, along with lifestyle modifications and support, can significantly affect the healing, relief, and long-term stability of those suffering from disc injuries and acute or chronic pain.
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I should see a chiropractor for a disc injury?
If you have unresolved disc injury symptoms that haven’t responded to other treatments or home care, getting a proper upper cervical chiropractic spinal evaluation would be prudent. If you have accompanying tension headaches, neck pain, upper back or shoulder pain, fatigue or brain fog, these are red flags for spinal/structural issues best addressed by an upper cervical chiropractor.
Is a massage or chiropractic better for a disc injury?
Both are great but serve different purposes. Massage primarily focuses on the soft tissues (muscles, fascia), improving circulation and reducing stress, whereas chiropractic focuses on the neuro-structural system (the spinal joints and adjacent nerves). Because a chiropractic adjustment affects the nervous system, it will also directly affect muscle tension and postural tone. We find that massage is a wonderful compliment to chiropractic care but not a replacement for it.
What can I do in the meantime to relieve disc injury symptoms?
- Relaxation Techniques: Incorporating relaxation practices such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or progressive muscle relaxation into your daily routine to relieve stress and promote overall well-being is one way of reducing tension and improving health and well-being.
- Cold or Hot Compress: Applying a cold or hot compress may relieve neck or back pain due to disc injury. If it is a fresh disc injury <72hrs, only use cold packs wrapped in a dish towel applied to the affected area. 15-20 minutes every hour as needed. After the initial 72-hour acute phase, you may introduce heat (hot packs). We recommend alternating with hot and cold, ending with cold.
- Adequate Rest and Sleep: To properly recover from a spinal/soft tissue disc injury, make sure you’re sleeping enough by setting a consistent sleeping pattern and schedule. A lack of restful slumber or irregular patterns could prolong your recovery.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Dehydration will only slow healing and magnify symptoms. Aim for at least 8-12 glasses daily or half your body weight in ounces.
- Ginger: The anti-inflammatory properties may help relieve disc injury symptoms. You can consume ginger in various forms, such as fresh ginger slices, tea with ginger extract, or supplements. Ginger can also help reduce any associated nausea.
- Magnesium Supplementation: Magnesium may help with reducing neurological and muscle tension. Food sources rich in magnesium include leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Supplements may be an option; just be sure to consult your doctor first!
- Avoid Pro-inflammatory Foods: These include processed foods with added sugar, preservatives, etc. Make an effort to eat clean, whole foods such as pasture-raised meats, organic fruits, and veggies. Also include healthy fats in grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish, avocado, and raw almonds/walnuts. The essential fatty acids in fish oil supplementation improve recovery and protect the brain in the event of future concussions.
- Essential Oils: Many individuals find relief from nausea, headaches, and muscle tension associated with disc injury with essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus. Simply dilute several drops in a carrier oil before gently massaging or inhaling their aroma onto temples for immediate results. Be careful not to overdo it!
What’s the best way to sleep with a disc injury?
If you are currently symptomatic, the best posture to sleep in is semi-recumbent (as in a recliner chair) with support under your neck. Some contoured pillows are good (some are terrible)—we recommend the Killapilla—or simply roll a small towel to put under your neck. If you can lie flat in bed, put a pillow under your knees to help achieve a more neutral spinal posture. Your pillow shouldn’t be too thick and should support the natural curvature of your spine. If on your side, it’s crucial to have just the right amount of pillow height so that your head is not tilted up or down, which will only irritate your neck joints and receptor nerves, possibly aggravating your symptoms. Also, while on your side, keep your knees bent with a pillow between your knees.
Movement and Stretching: If possible, keep moving! Don’t sit for more than 20-30 minutes without getting up and moving around for several minutes. If it’s not too difficult, try to get in some walks of 10-20 minutes a couple of times a day as well. Movement hydrates the joints and discs and increases blood flow and circulation into the damaged tissues while helping to flush out damaged cells and inflammation (pain). Only do so within pain limits.
Does a chiropractic adjustment hurt?
No, a chiropractic adjustment should not hurt. Some technique models use more force to move the vertebrae where there may be an audible “cracking or popping sound”. This is nothing to fear, as it is just gas escaping the joint. That being said, in our office, we utilize a very specialized form of care that does not involve twisting or “cracking” of your spine—it is very gentle, precise, and extremely effective at producing results. You can learn more about “Upper Cervical” chiropractic care on our website.