Bulging and Herniated Discs

What happens when an intervertebral disc herniates?

Each intervertebral disc can be compared to a jelly doughnut, with a thicker, stronger outside (called the annulus fibrosus) and a gooey, soft inside (called the nucleus pulposus). When a disc injury occurs, usually it involves a tear in the outer layer that allows for the soft inner layer to extrude. In order for this to occur, a ligament has to be torn or ruptured as each intervertebral disc has ligaments completely surrounding it. The soft, inner portion of the disc that is herniated or bulged may put pressure on the nerve roots at that level of the spinal cord or on the spinal cord itself. This can cause symptoms into your arms, hands, legs and/or feet. A fissure in the outer layer of the disc itself can also cause pain.

How is this treated? Treatment of a bulged or herniated disc includes class IV laser therapy, chiropractic adjustments, nutritional recommendations and microcurrent. In most cases, therapeutic exercise instruction is included that focuses on correcting posture, strengthening core muscles and addressing muscle imbalances.

Our Avicenna High Power Laser is a 12 Watt, class IV infrared laser that promotes healing. Class IV laser therapy speeds up the healing process of the ligaments around the disc. The soft, extruded portion of the disc is either resorbed by the body or is slowly pulled back to where it belongs. The outer layer of the disc and the ligaments surrounding it are healed and strengthened by the laser. Laser light stimulates the healing of deep pathologies by increasing blood flow and cellular metabolic activity. Specifically, results of treating with the laser include more tensile strength in the ligaments, improved nerve function and reduced scar tissue.

Special instructions are given on how to prevent further damaging the disc while it is healing. You may have to change your daily routine and activities while this process occurs. We may recommend a supplement that supports repair of the disc tissue specifically. Also, chiropractic adjustments are needed during this time to assure that these ligaments heal at their proper length and place.

Additionally, frequency specific microcurrent may be done during treatment. This device sends a low level of electrical impulse through your body, targeting the disc. Microcurrent acts to decrease inflammation around the injured area.

Treatment usually consists of up to three visits per week for 3-6 weeks. Of course, all treatment plans are determined on an individual basis. Our treatment goal is to promote healing of the disc so that symptoms will not reoccur in the future.