Complementary and alternative treatments like massage, acupressure, and acupuncture can relieve pain related to a bulging or herniated disc.
If you’re considering these remedies, you need to consult a complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professional. This title can be confusing, although complementary medicine and other medicine follow the very same techniques, they’re distinct in that forms are used in place of traditional medicine, whereas complementary treatments are used with conventional medication.
A herniated disk refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions (disks) between the individual bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make your spine. A spinal disk is a little like a jelly donut, with a softer center encased within a tougher exterior. Sometimes called a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, a herniated disk occurs when some of the softer “jelly” pushes out through a tear in the tougher exterior.
Sometimes called a ruptured or slipped disc, your lower back pain often occurs due to a herniated disc in the lumbar spine. In fact, it’s one of the most common causes of low back pain, in addition to sciatica.
Between 60 and 80 percent of people will experience back pain at least once throughout their lifetime. A high proportion of these individuals will have low back and leg pain brought on by a herniated disc.
Most people feel better with just a few weeks or months of non-surgical treatment though a disc can sometimes be very debilitating. Surgical therapy can also help alleviate discomfort and disc pain if symptoms are not resolved.
The goals of the chiropractic treatment of a thoracic disc herniation are to reduce pain and dysfunction while the body heals itself.
Since most disc extrusions naturally regress in a few months, chiropractors will attempt to reduce the pain and pressure caused by the disc herniation. Chiropractic treatment of a thoracic disc herniation may include one or a combination of the following:
Distraction or traction
Physical modalities (cold laser, heat, ice, electrical stimulation)
Some chiropractors will recommend nutritional support, such as proteolytic enzymes, to reduce the pain and swelling associated with a disc herniation.
More Chiropractic Treatments for Upper Back Problems
In addition to joint dysfunction, myofascial pain syndrome, and thoracic herniated disc, which have already been reviewed in this article, chiropractic care may be a treatment option for additional upper back problems, such as thoracic joint dysfunction, thoracic outlet syndrome, and shoulder dysfunction related to the upper spine.
The thoracic spine is a marvel of joint interaction and complex motion patterns. Composed of a total of 220 separate joints,1 it makes up the lion’s share of the 313 total joints in the entire spine. With this many interactive articulations it is easy to see that maintaining normal joint function, motion, and position is important. Chiropractors treat thoracic joint dysfunction with chiropractic adjustments.
There are a variety of chiropractic-adjustment techniques that can be used to adjust a dysfunctional joint:
Most chiropractors employ manual adjusting techniques that utilize precise thrusting adjustments to help normalize joint function.
Chiropractors can also use softer directional adjusting techniques or adjusting instruments to accommodate the needs of the patient.
Thoracic outlet syndrome
Thoracic outlet syndrome (TOS) is a disorder in which the nerves of the brachial plexus and blood vessels are compressed. This compression can cause great pain and altered sensations such as a “pins and needles” sensation in the hands.
Treatment of thoracic outlet syndrome can include stretching, manual trigger-point therapy, and myofascial anchor-and-stretch release techniques to the affected muscles. Chiropractors may also include adjustments and postural instruction.
The function of the shoulder and the upper back are interrelated. Studies have shown that thrusting manipulations applied to the thoracic spine and ribs have reduced shoulder pain and dysfunction. Chiropractic adjustments to the thoracic region can be beneficial to certain types of shoulder dysfunction.
There are many causes and treatment options for thoracic spine disorders. Chiropractors have a wide range of treatment options for treating these conditions. Chiropractors are increasingly joining collaborative spinal care teams as a drug-free option for treating spinal and musculoskeletal conditions.