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363 Great Rd. Suite 202

Bedford, MA 01730 US

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Slipped/Herniated Disc

 

Slipped Disc

Discs do not actually "slip".  Rather, they may herniate or bulge outward.  A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part of the disc.

You may have heard the term "slipped disc" used to describe a low back injury.  Discs do not actually "slip".  Rather, they may herniate or bulge out from between the bones.  A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part or nucleus of the disc that is pushed through a tear in the outer layer or annulus of the disc.  Pain results when irritating substances are released from this tear and also if the fragment touches or compresses a nearby nerve.  Disc herniation has some similarities to degenerative disc disease and discs that herniate are often in an early stage of degeneration.  Herniated discs are common in the low back or lumbar spine.

What causes discs to herniate?

Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of disc herniation.  Life style choices such as smoking, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health.  Poor posture, daily wear and tear, injury or trauma, and incorrect lifting or twisting further stress the disc. If the disc is already weakened, it may herniate with a single movement or strain such as coughing or bending to pick up a pencil.

How do I know if I have a disc herniation?

Herniated discs are most likely to affect people between the ages of 30 and 40.  Disc herniations may be present without causing pain.  The most common symptom will be pain in the area of the herniation that may radiate across the hips or into the buttocks.  You may also experience numbness or pain radiating down your leg to the ankle or foot.  If the herniation is large enough, you may notice weakness with extension of your big toe and you may be unable to walk on your toes or heels.  In severe cases of lumbar disc herniation, you may experience changes in your bowel or bladder function and may have difficulty with sexual function.

How is a disc herniation treated?

Mild to moderate disc herniations can usually be treated conservatively with stretching, exercise therapy and chiropractic care, such as gentle spinal manipulation, Graston Technique and Active Release Technique.  More advanced cases may often require some form of spinal decompression, such as traction or mechanical decompression, in conjuction with chiropractic care. 

Occasionally, a herniation may be severe enough to warrant surgical intervention.  These cases are usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of therapy have failed to relieve pain, or if there is significant compression of the spinal cord or nerves.

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  • "It's really difficult for me to fully sum up just how much Dr. Boisvert has helped me. I injured my upper back when I was only fifteen, and over the years, despite seeing numerous doctors and physical therapists, the pain and knotting continued to worsen. By nineteen, I was terrified that I would be in pain and inactive for the rest of my life. That's when I started going to Bedford Chiropractic and everything changed. Unlike many other doctors, he really gets to know his patients and genuinely cares about each one. Since I first went to Bedford Chiropractic a little over a year ago, my back has completely turned around. I'm no longer in pain, and I'm active again. And most importantly, I can confidently feel like I have an active and pain-free future ahead of me. So, thank you Bedford Chiropractic and especially thank you, Dr. Boisvert, for helping me get my life back."
    Diana Johnson

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