Herniated discs are the leading cause of back pain, something 31 million Americans are dealing with right now. As a chiropractor for disc herniation, I can tell you that disc injuries aren’t this:
They are this:
Disc injuries, like a herniated disc, bulging disc, or degenerative disc disease, make everyday activities seem like impossible tasks from a ruthless dictator. Let’s start from the very beginning, a very good place to start.
What even is a herniated disc?
Imagine a jelly donut. That is essentially a spinal disc. There are little jelly donuts in between each of our vertebrae to provide cushioning for our spine and create a window for the nerves that transverse through the spinal cord. Plus, just in case our spine gets hungry it has a fun little snack.
Each disc has a fibrous exterior made of cartilage, covered in sugar, surrounding a gelatinous nucleus, preferably made of raspberry jelly. As the cartilage begins to wear down from age, wear and tear, bad repetitive habits, poor posture, etc., the nucleus pushes against it until finally it breaks through the outer wall putting pressure on the nerves and wreaking havoc on the body.
It takes a lot more than a flimsy paper napkin to clean up this mess. Traditional medicine treats disc herniations with opioid medications or steroid injections, sometimes resorting to surgery.
The problem with those treatments, in addition to being wildly dangerous, is they are unable to address the structural problems at the root of the problem. Structural problems require structural solutions, not just popping a pill and praying that a miracle happens. Luckily, there are many natural disc herniation treatments that make over-the-counter pain relievers look like tic tacs.
5 Natural Treatments for a Herniated Disc
1. Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Food isn’t just for binging, awkward family dinners, and rewarding ourselves for a job well done, or just done, food is the fuel our body needs to work at its best. Collagen is the new kid in school who is quiet and mysterious but then tries out for the hockey team and everyone realizes is super cool. While collagen is synonymous with…
…it has some less self-obsessed uses as well. Collagen is in our bones, muscles, and blood. It comprises 3/4 of our skin and 1/3 of the protein in our body. Stronger bones, skin hydration and elasticity, reduced joint pain, increased muscle mass, even thicker hair and healthier nails are all the result of collagen.
As we age, our existing collagen breaks down, and our bodies aren’t super great at creating more. The Standard American Diet isn’t much help when it comes to supplying our body with the building blocks for more collagen. Collagen production requires proline, glycine, vitamin C, zinc, and copper, and it doesn’t count to just suck on pennies.
Drinking bone broth, using collagen supplements, or focusing on an antioxidant-rich diet are absolute musts when it comes to successful herniated disc treatment, allowing the body to heal itself.
Plus, there are a plethora of supplements we can use to complement our new herniation fighting diet.
Omega-3 fish oil
MSM supplement – helps with joint repair
Glucosamine – anti-inflammatory and anti-aging
Turmeric – heal and repair damaged tissues
2. Posture Exercises
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: moms are always right.
Someone forward this to my mom just to make sure she saw that. Who can count the number of times our mothers told us to sit up straight. Turns out, it wasn’t solely in an attempt to control every aspect of our lives, though it wasn’t not about that either.
Our posture is critical to the health of our spine and therefore the health of our entire body. Makes sense then that as we spend the day hunched over our computer or scrolling through our phones that our physical health continues to decline.
Poor posture negatively affects our nerves, bones, and muscles. Lower-crossed syndrome or upper-crossed syndrome, a combination of muscle weakness and muscle tension, put extra stress on our spine and discs increasing the risk of a disc injury. A strong, stabilized healthy posture prevents injuries from happening in the first place.
3. Hot/Cold Therapy
Heat or Ice won’t address the root problem of a disc herniation, but they work together in beautiful harmony to relieve pain. Heat helps to loosen tight muscles that may be spasming and improve blood flow and elasticity of the connective tissue. Cold temps have an analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect, thus reducing pain naturally. Applying heat in the morning or before a stretching session is the perfect way to loosen the muscles and get them ready for the day while applying an ice pack after stretching or a session at the gym can help with pain relief. Just be careful, ice can be cold:
4. Moderate Physical Activity
A lot of patients will use disc injuries as an excuse to avoid exercise. It’s cheeky, but ultimately does more harm than good. Movement is life and our bodies were designed to move. Staying active actually provides pain relief. Something low impact, like a walk around the block, a bike ride, or this:
Not to mention, exercise releases endorphins which can naturally improve a person’s mood and reduce their perception of pain. It’s like that ancient proverb says:
5. Corrective Chiropractic Care
As I said before, but just to reiterate for those readers that rely on skimming: structural problems require structural solutions.
Part of what causes a herniated disc is too much or too little curve in the spine or an unstable spinal structure. Chiropractic care is one of the best ways to naturally treat a herniated disc because it retrains the spine, restoring it to its optimal structure, and then works to stabilize that healthy structure. Chiropractic adjustments not only restore motion and function within the spine but also encourage discs to return to their natural position.
We have a few tricks up our sleeve when it comes to disc injury reilef.
Just like that. We use Spinal Decompression to alleviate the pressure applied to a herniated disc. Decompressing the disc allows nutrients to flow into it and improves joint spacing, allowing the nerves more room to breathe and function properly. Disc injuries take time to heal, but we use Deep Tissue Laser to accelerate that natural healing process. Not only is having access to a laser super badass, but the light energy penetrates tissue to the cellular level to stimulate energy production which reduces inflammation and speeds up healing.
These two treatments, used in conjunction with chiropractic care are game-changers when it comes to disc herniation relief. Call our office or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. There is no need to rely on medications that bring a whole host of nasty side effects, natural pain relief for disc herniations is possible. In fact, we can restore nervous system function and prevent injuries down the road. What could be better than that!