How to Heal a Herniated Disc

Herniated discs are the source of debilitating pain for many people. They are a common condition, costing the US healthcare system millions of dollars each year to treat. Unfortunately, many think that the only way to treat a herniated disc is through pain medication or surgery.

However, there is an effective alternative.

Spinal decompression is an advanced treatment proven to heal herniated discs.

Dr. Bradley is the only chiropractors in Bakersfield who is equipped to properly treat herniated discs. The best therapy for herniated discs is spinal decompression because it heals the root cause of the issue.

What is a Herniated Disc?

herniated disc at Bradley Chiropractic Nutrition CenterFirst off, let’s start with what a herniated disc actually is. To put it simply, a herniated disc is like a bursted jelly donut.

The outside of a disc is a strong thick layer of tissue called the annulus fibrosis (think of the “crust”) and on the inside is a soft fluid material called the nucleus pulposis (think of the “jelly”).

When the thick outer layer of a disc gets weak or injured, it can rupture letting the “jelly” leak out and cause a disc herniation (which is a bulge in the disc).

Unfortunately for patients, a herniated disc can also be referred to as a slipped disc, compressed disc, prolapsed disc, bulging disc and a pinched nerve, causing confusion.

But to set the record straight, they’re all the same thing. However, there can be differences in how the disc herniates. Sometimes it only stretches, or there is only a partial tear, or there can be a full tear like in the picture, or if the tear is really bad the nucleus pulposis (“jelly”) can become detached from the disc.

Disc herniations usually occur in the lumbar spine (lower back) and push toward the back of the spine, however a disc herniation can occur anywhere in the spine. There are three types of pain this could cause:

  1. There could be pain localized to the disc, known quiet simply as disc pain. The herniated disc will be painful to move and put pressure on (which you do all day in any position, even lying down puts 25% pressure on your disc), causing severe back pain.
  2. When the herniation happens to compress a nerve, it can cause a painful tingling or burning sensation in the area of the body associated with that nerve. This is also known as a pinched nerve, and if the pain defers to the legs, it is sciatica.
  3. A herniated disc can also push on the spinal cord itself causing myelopathy or spinal cord dysfunction. This is the most serious case of a herniated disc and can cause general numbness, loss of balance, loss of strength, and loss of bowel control.

Here is an excellent, quick video illustrating a herniated disc.

As I said, most often a disc herniation occurs in the lumbar spine and they are a cause of severe lower back pain in many people. I have had patients with pain so bad that they struggle to walk, sit, and even sleep.

They’re certainly not getting the quality of life that they deserve. Luckily I am able to help people with herniated discs in their lumbar spine and it’s really exciting to me that I get to help them return to a healthy body.

 

What Causes Herniated Discs?

Of course, the ultimate “cause” of a herniated disc is the tearing of the outer fibers leading to a herniation. But what I am proposing here is what is the true cause of that happening?

What are the events that had to happen in order for the disc to be weak enough to herniate? Because except for sudden, severe trauma a disc should be strong enough to not herniate from something like picking up a bag of dog food.

Usually the cause is a combination of poor nutrition, improper form and function, and repetitive faulty movement.

 

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition in Bakersfield, CAIn order to have strong, well lubricated, healthy discs you need to have a lot of healthy fats and proteins in your diet.

Proteins that come from gelatin collagen hydrolysate (which I also sell at my office, it is very high quality, or you can buy it here) are especially beneficial because they make up the exact amino acid profile needed to repair disc material.

Unfortunately, many people eat the opposite of what they’re supposed to. Because of the “fat free” fad many people avoid fats, when really they should only be avoiding trans fats.

Quality, saturated fats are extremely healthy and essential for good health. To make matters worse, people that follow such a diet often believe they are being healthy and are hard to convince of otherwise.

Also, many of the proteins that people eat are very low quality and packed with hormones and antibiotics. To get quality protein, people need to at the very least be eating all-natural, free range meats. And if they have the resources and devotion, grass-fed, organic, wild-caught/pasture raised is always the best.

This way you can ensure the protein you are eating is helping you be healthy and strong, without polluting you and being lacking in nutrient content.

But for the person that eats unhealthily (which is the majority of the people that come to me), their discs are not getting what they need in order to repair themselves and be resilient to impact.

They will be weak and susceptible to pressure applied to them. Almost any movement you make puts force through your discs, so if those discs are weak from poor nutrition, injury is just around the corner.

 

Improper Form/Function

Naturally, our bodies are supposed to know how to move correctly. But because of our modern lifestyle which restricts the amount of movement we get throughout our lives (but most importantly while developing), we develop faulty movement patterns.

From the way we stand, walk, squat, bend, pull, push, twist, and lunge, many of us have it wrong. We do not use our core like we should, we do not contract the correct muscles, and do not have the proper posture to perform these movements.

Without these elements not only are we limiting our potential, but we are ingraining destructive patterns.

Bad exercise formWhen you move from a faulty position, you load muscles some muscles too much and others not enough.

This causes the loaded muscles to begin to shorten and the unused muscles to relax. You can see how this is imbalanced and would only continue to get worse if not made aware of.

Also, every time you perform a faulty movement, the nerves are remembering how they sent the message from the brain to the body. Each time the message is sent in that pattern, the easier it is for the body to use that path so it will continue to do so.

When such imbalances occur in the spine, uneven pressure is applied on the discs, and the supporting muscles, ligaments, and tendons are not taking the load that they should.

These tissues are supposed to support much of the load to protect the spine (because the spine is one of the most important parts of your body, it will sacrifice much to keep it safe) and without their help the discs begin to degenerate and are prone to injury.

 

Repetitive Faulty Movement

Following along with improper form and function, is the repetition of those faulty movements. Especially for people that work manual labor jobs, or jobs that require them to perform the same movement over and over.

Others at risk are those who spend most of their day sitting, especially with bad posture.

Constantly moving with improper form (especially while lifting objects) will stress the weakest areas of the back (which often are in the low back) over and over, driving imbalances deeper and wearing out tissue faster. This will eventually lead to injury and pain.

For example, one of my patients that came to me with a herniated disc was a mechanic. Being as such, he spent much of his day bent over or lifting heavy parts. He did much of this bending and lifting without much thought to his posture or form, assuming his body would handle it for him. After 40 years of the work, he hurt his back so badly that he had to take time off until he had healed with my help.

 

How to Heal

Holistic-Wellness-Wheel at Bradley Chiropractic Nutrition CenterFor my practice, I see it as essential that I use multiple modalities in order to help people heal. My goal is not only to get people out of pain, but to keep people out of pain. I believe that if I ran a perfect practice, patients would never have to come back to my office once they were through with treatment.

In order to strive towards this goal, I always recommend various modalities of treatment to my patients and hope that they follow my advice. If not with me, then at least with another knowledgable professional.

Of course I give specific treatment to help heal the herniated disc as quickly as possibly.  But as I mentioned in the “causes” portion of this post, nutrition and movement are almost always part of the problem for those suffering from herniated discs.

In order to heal not only the symptoms but the root causes of the herniation, I recommend to my patients that they work to improve all areas of their health. This way they’ll never have to see me again.

 

Spinal Decompression

At my office I am lucky to have a spinal decompression table called the DRX-9000. I’ve already covered the function and benefits of this table in my Spinal Decompression page so I won’t bore you with that again. But I will say that this is the main modality of treatment that I use for patients that come to me with a herniated disc.

bakersfield ca DRX 9000 spinal decompressionThis table is able to decompress the spine by pulling on it in a way that prevents muscle spasms and is very comfortable. It provides relief because it takes pressure off of the discs in the spine.

With the DRX-9000, I can also target the specific lumbar disc causing pain. I can apply the largest decompressive force on the disc that needs it the most, speeding up the healing process and ensuring that area of the spine gets treated.

The decompression creates a negative pressure around the disc which pulls in the “jelly” that has protruded through. Because there is a negative pressure, liquid which contains nutrients is also pulled towards the disc promoting its hydration and regeneration.

This creates an optimal healing environment for the disc, and in my office I have been able to help thousands of people who have come to me with severe pain due to herniated discs.

Normally within a couple of weeks of treatment, patients begin to have relief even while off of the table and throughout their day. At that point they are excited to come each week and continue to see improvement.

However, while yes this treatment may be enough to get one out of pain, it is sometimes not enough to keep people out of pain. I cannot stress enough how important it is that all aspects of health be addressed to truly keep people away from injury.

I would like to point out that if you are reading this, but you are not near Bakersfield and cannot get access to my treatment, I recommend that you seek out a chiropractor with a DRX-9000 or a similar spinal decompression table. Be sure that the table is a true decompression table and not simply a traction table.

 

Nutrition

It is important that you eat quality, non-processed foods and get all of the nutrients that you need. You need the right combination of fats, oils, proteins, vitamins, and carbohydrates in your diet to maintain health.

And, as with all things in the body, each persons case is unique. So no cookie-cutter, canned diet plan is going to work for everyone. Your unique physiology must be assessed and addressed so you can eat right for yourself.

Nutrition in Bakersfield, CAAt my office I offer Nutritional Counseling where I use laboratory testing (of blood, hair, and urine) and questionnaires to objectively determine what your body needs.

I can then order you high quality vitamins and recommend changes you should make to your diet based on my findings. This way the changes you make directly target the nutrients that you are the most lacking in.

This will not be able to heal a herniated disc on its own of course, but I see it as extremely important in order to keep the spine healthy and discs strong enough to avoid re-injury.

Again, if you do not have access to my office but are seeking nutritional guidance I recommend you find a trustworthy professional. Many times, your doctor doesn’t know enough about nutrition to make a sound recommendation (most doctors only receive 2-3 hours of nutritional education during their entire 8 years of school).

So I recommend you seek a CHEK Practitioner, holistic health practitioner, or nutritionist (usually one that is not mainstream and will support organic foods or provide objective testing).

 

Exercise

To correct imbalances that are putting undue pressure on discs, you must do three things. First you need to do specific exercises and stretches to return the body to balance. Second, you need to learn the proper way to perform any movement. Third, you need to have the necessary strength and stability to support your spine.

If you can correct imbalances, improve posture, train one how to correctly move in all six movement patterns (squat, bend, push, pull, twist, and lunge), and give them the necessary strength and stability, their spine will be fully supported all the time. With this, re-injury of the spine will be very unlikely.

For a trained professional, such as myself and my son, we know how to look at posture and assess flexibility to find and correct these imbalances. We also asses the function of your core, and your form in different movement patterns. Based on our findings we create a specialized exercise program (again no cookie-cutter B.S) that returns full function to your body.

We offer this as Corrective Exercise at my office and I see it as the final puzzle piece to healing one from a herniated disc. With this in place, even strenuous repetitive movements requires at many jobs will be easier on the body because they are correctly performed. Also, posture while sitting, standing, and walking will be improved and pressure will be taken off your discs and will be supported naturally by your body.

If you cannot access my care, I recommend that you find a qualified corrective exercise coach, especially a CHEK Practitioner to go to. They are the best in the practice when it comes to how to exercise correctly.

 

Conclusion

I hope you found this information useful, and if you are suffering from a herniated disc I hope this is the beginning of your healing process. Even if you are not suffering from a herniated disc, I hope you benefitted from learning about proper nutrition and exercise.

I must add a disclaimer though, spinal decompression is not for everyone. Unfortunately there are cases when the herniated disc is so severe that surgery is the only option. This is why I offer a free consultation and require a MRI scan before treatment begins to ensure that the patient is a candidate. If they are not candidates, I am sure to refer them to doctors and surgeons whom I trust to do an excellent job.

A side-note of this is that if you go to a chiropractor who wants to treat you with spinal decompression without a medical history evaluation and MRI, do not trust their judgement! Performed improperly, spinal decompression will do more harm than good.

If you find any of my services of interest, do not hesitate to give my office a call to schedule an appointment.

Yours in health.

About the Author Dr. Brendon Bradley

I am a board certified chiropractor practicing in Bakersfield, CA. I graduated in 1995 from the esteemed Southern California University of Health Sciences. Also, I have taken many postgraduate study courses on diet, health, nutrition and corrective exercise. I maintain an active practice, helping people achieve and maintain an optimal state of health.

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