Disc herniations (also known as slipped discs, disc bulges, disc extrusions, etc) are a common problem which can lead to disabling pain. Pain down the extremities (arms or legs) is called radicular pain and can stem from a disc herniation which is affecting a nerve root. Radicular pain can result in numbness, tingling, burning, or muscle cramps.
Many people who suffer from a suspected disc herniation visit their primary care physician. Usually, their primary care physician will examine the patient and refer them for a MRI. If the MRI shows a disc herniation the patient is often sent to an orthopedic specialist and injections may be recommended as a treatment option. Last year over 9 million injections were given in the United States, which is roughly 25,000 per day.
Many patients don't know that injections are only effective about 50% of the time (per Columbia University Neurosurgery Department). Also, they have substantial risks. The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery found that every injection increases the risk of a vertebral fracture by 21% (in the lumbar spine).
As a matter of a fact, a research article produced in 2013 compared the effectiveness of chiropractic care by spinal manipulation to nerve root injections for symptomatic disc herniation's. They found, "“A systematic review of the literature done the next year concluded that spinal manipulation is a very safe and cost-effective option to treat lumbar disc herniation" and "“Both of the treatment groups had significant decreases in their NRS scores at 1 month with a 60% reduction for the Spinal Manipulative Therapy cohort and a 53% reduction for the Nerve Root Injection group.” In this study, spinal manipulative therapy, the hallmark of chiropractic care, provided greater relief than the injections!
While many physicians are beginning to embrace the overwhelming research showing the efficacy of chiropractic care, their are still other physicians who are reluctant to provide evidence-based care. If you or someone you know is suffering from a disc herniation, it may be in your best interest to be evaluated by a chiropractic physician.
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