Herniated Disc | How to Deal With a Herniated Disc

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How to Deal With a Herniated Disc

herniated disc

In order to explain what you can do when you have a herniating disc we first need to understand what it is and how it occurs.

In simple terms, a herniated disc occurs when there is an unequal pressure on the small cussion (the disc) that is located between each two back bones of the spine (the vertebrae).

This pressure sometimes causes the jelly-like inner material to erupt out of the disc shell. This material can then touch a spinal nerve, which may cause pain.

Common Causes of Herniated Discs

Two of the most common causes of a herniated disc are wear and tear of the disc (degeneration) as well as spinal injuries.

At the same time, research indicates that very often the original underlying cause of a disc herniation is a poor posture which often goes hand in hand with unbalanced muscles. Several studies have shown a significant association between lower back pain and weak/imbalanced muscles (detailed results of these studies have been published by the International College of Applied Kinesiology and can be accessed – here). 



So even though your herniation might have appeared suddenly, in many cases there is a long story to how it started. And research shows that many of these stories are connected to posture dysfunctions, spinal misalignments and imbalanced muscles.

What are muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions? In simple terms, a muscle imbalance occurs when you have overdeveloped and tight muscles in one area of your body while the opposing muscles are weak and stretched out of their normal position. These imbalances can happen anywhere on the body and often develop as the result of the routine things you do while on the job, playing sports, or engaging in other activities you enjoy.

Herniating or bulging discs are often the result of unequal pressure on the disc (the cushion located between each two vertebrae or backbones). Unequal pressure as a result of muscle imbalances and wrong postures provoke the less-pressured side to bulge or rupture, forcing the jellylike interior over the fibrous membrane straight into the spinal column.

Common Treatments for Herniated Discs

Research shows that most of the tim es, a combination of different treatments is the key. The SPORT trial (Spine Patient Outcome Research Trial) concluded that herniated disc patients who received non-surgical treatments like education/counseling, anti-inflammatories, injections (eg, epidural steroids), active physical therapy showed similar results over the 2-year trial period to patients who received surgery.



So the best thing you can do is inform yourself about the newest research, find out what works for others, and try experimenting yourself. At the same time, try to find the best experts you can regarding the subject.

Other studies have emphasised the effectiveness of spinal decompression followed by extensive spinal stabilization exercises, posture care, ergonomics and assistive devices. Decompression removes the unequal pressure on your spine caused by the imbalance, which in turn helps easing the pain caused by the herniation. Probably the most valuable tool for obtaining this result is through an inversion table, which uses gravity to carefully relieve pressure. Over time, this negative pressure helps the spine return to the healthier posture on it’s own. 

There are many more treatment possibilities to reduce the pain caused by a herniation or bulge, which can and should also be part of the actual healing process if used correctly. Here are some informative articles on such treatment options:

Lifestyle Changes for the Long Term

After you will have relieved the initial pain you might still have to handle the original cause of compression, which in many cases are muscle imbalances and posture dysfunctions. Each person has their own individual condition which has to be understood. Using all the information you can get, educate yourself about your condition. Get several different consultations by professionals to help you figure out if and how your posture is dysfunctional.

As you can guess, in the long term you’ll have to make some serious lifestyle changes in order to really treat the root problem by strengthening the right muscles and improving your posture. There is no doubt that these radical lifestyle changes will involve exercising regularly (here is a helpful article on exercising with a herniated disc). By minimizing the pressure to the damaged disc and fixing the actual muscle imbalances you will slowly go significantly in direction of treating the condition. And remember, you simply cannot ignore all other causes.


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2 Responses to “How to Deal With a Herniated Disc”

  1. Lori Lewis on June 26th, 2012 3:20 am

    Yeah, its really true that we cannot ignore all other causes.. Great work!

  2. Allison s. on July 2nd, 2012 9:49 pm

    I can attest to the fact that spinal decompression really works for herniated discs. I had pain running down the back of my leg, but after about 5 treatments it was mostly gone. Thanks for sharing this information!

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