Franklin Chiropractor | Lumbar Disc Degeneration
About your problem. Lumbar Disc Your spine consists of 24 individual vertebrae stacked on top of each other. Flexible cushions called “discs” live between each set of vertebrae. A disc is made up of two basic components. The inner disc, called the “nucleus”, is like a ball of jelly about the size of a marble. This jelly is held in place by the outer part of the disc called the “annulus”, which is wrapped around the inner nucleus much like a ribbon wrapping around your finger. The term lumbar disc lesion means that your disc has been damaged. Disc lesions start when the outer fibers of the disc become strained or frayed. If enough fibers become frayed, this can create a weakness and when the disc is compressed, the outer fibers may “bulge” or “protrude” like a weak spot on an inner tube. If more fibers are damaged, the nucleus of the disc may “herniate” outward. Since the spinal cord and nerve roots live directly behind the disc, bulges that are accompanied by inflammation will likely create lower back pain that radiates into the buttock or the entire lower extremity. This condition is called sciatica. If the disc bulge is significant enough to create a mechanical compression of your nerve, you may also experience loss of your reflexes and weakness. Be sure to let our office know if you notice progressive weakness or numbness, any numbness around your groin, any loss of bowel or bladder control or fever. Surprisingly, disc bulges are present without any symptoms in about 1/3 of the adult population. Another one third of adults will experience pain from a lumbar disc at some point in their lifetime. The condition is more common in men. Most lumbar disc problems occur at one of the two lowest discs- L5 or L4. Smokers and people who are generally inactive have a higher risk of lumbar disc problems. Certain occupations may place you at a greater risk, especially if you spend extended periods of time sitting or driving. People who are tall or overweight have increased risk of disc problems. The condition is uncommon in children and is most common between the ages of 40 and 60. Researches have shown that disc bulges and sciatica may be successfully managed with conservative care like the type we will provide in your Franklin chiropractors office. Our Treatment here is a brief description of the treatments your Franklin chiropractor may use to help manage your problem. Joint Manipulation -Your Franklin chiropractor has found joints in your body that are not moving freely. This can cause tightness and discomfort and can accelerate unwanted degeneration i.e. arthritis. Your Franklin chiropractor will apply a gentle force with their hands, or with hand held instruments, in order to restore motion to any “restricted” joints. Sometimes a specialized table will be used to assist with these safe and effective “adjustments”. Joint manipulation improves flexibility, relieves pain and helps maintain healthy joints. Therapy Modalities -We may apply electrotherapy modalities that produce light electrical pulses transmitted through electrodes placed over your specific sites of concern. These comfortable modalities work to decrease your pain, limit inflammation and ease muscle spasm. Hot or cold packs are often used in conjunction, to enhance the effect of these modalities. Franklin Chiropractor.Another available option is therapeutic ultrasound. Ultrasound pushes sound vibrations into tissues. When these vibrations reach your deep tissues, heat develops and unwanted waste products are dispersed. Massage -Overworked muscles often become tight and develop knots or “trigger points”. Chronic tightness produces inflammation and swelling that ultimately leads to the formation of “adhesions” between tissues. Your Franklin chiropractor will apply pressure with their hands, or with specialized tools, in order to release muscle tightness and soft-tissue adhesions. This will help to improve your circulation, relieve pain and restore flexibility. Home Exercise -Muscle tightness or weakness causes discomfort and alters normal joint function, leading to additional problems. Your Franklin chiropractor will target tight or weak muscles with specific therapeutic stretching and strengthening to help increase tissue flexibility, build strength, and ease pain. Healthy, strong, and flexible muscles may help prevent re-injury. Spinal Decompression- Your condition is aggravated by compression of your spinal joints and discs. We may perform traction “by hand” or utilize a specialized traction table to “decompress” these tissues. Traction helps to stretch your tight muscles and ligaments, improve nutrition to the discs and increases available space in the openings where your spinal nerves exit.
Some Things That You Can Do to Help Yourself In & Out of Bed – Here are a couple of tips to help you get in and out of bed more comfortably: To lie down: Sit on the edge of the bed, pull your arms to your sides and tilt your body into the bed, maintaining the bend of your knees at 45 degrees. Finally, bring your feet into in a lying position or roll onto your back.To get up: From a side-lying position with your knees bent, push your body upright into a sitting position, swinging your legs over the edge of the bed as you rise. Lifting Mechanics -Here are some tips to help you lift safely: Avoid lifting or flexing before you’ve had the chance to warm up your muscles (especially when you first awaken or after sitting or stooping for a period of time). To lift, stand close directly facing object with your feet shoulder width apart. Squat down by bending with your knees, not your back. Imagine a fluorescent light tube strapped to your head and hips when bending. Don’t “break” the tube with improper movements. Tuck your chin to help keep your spine aligned. Slowly lift by thrusting your hips forward while straightening your legs. Keep the object close to your body, within your power zone” between your hips and chest. Do not twist your body, if you must turn while carrying an object, re position your feet, not your torso. An alternative lifting technique for smaller objects is the golfers lift. Swing one leg directly behind you. Keep your back straight while your body leans forward. Placing one hand on your thigh or a sturdy object may help. Lumbar Support Cushion – Sitting without proper support is a common contributor to back pain, so make sure you: Sit all the way back in chairs and car seats to promote proper posture. Adjust the lumbar support in your car to fit your back. Consider a “lumbar support pillow” to make sitting more comfortable. Home Ice-Application of ice will help reduce inflammation by constricting swollen blood vessels. Ice may also help reduce muscle spasm and numb irritated nerves. Apply for 10-15 minutes. Break for 30 minutes. Reapply. (Alternatives to the ice pack include Ziploc bags filled with ice, or a bag of frozen vegetables.) Repeat several times a day as needed. Place a thin towel between your skin and the ice pack for comfort and safety. Use ice-massage for smaller areas. Begin by freezing a small paper cup of water. When frozen, tear off the bottom inch of the cup to expose the ice. Massage the indicated area for 5-10 minutes in a slow figure-eight pattern. Do not hold the ice in one position. Deconditioning – Proper maintenance is required for most things that we care about and this is particularly true of our body. The natural aging tendency to become more sedentary leads to a loss of strength, flexibility, mobility and balance. This will occur as a certainty unless you make a conscious effort to stay in better shape. Relative to your condition, you can count on stronger muscles to provide more support and stave off fatigue better than
weakened ones. You can count on flexible joints to resist strain and ache less if you keep them moving. Every day, you should make an effort to avoid deconditioning- not just for your current problem but for your overall well-being and health. Make time in your day to walk and stretch more. Even little efforts can be very beneficial, like choosing parking spots that require more walking and taking the stairs versus an elevator. Not everyone can expect to become an elite athlete but we can all strive to improve just a little bit every day. Entering & Exiting a Vehicle -Entering and exiting your vehicle is a potential risky activity for low back pain sufferers. Follow these tips to limit problems: To enter the vehicle, open the door and stand with your back to the seat, legs close to the side of the vehicle. For larger vehicles, you may wish to begin by standing on the running board. Place your hands on the door and door frame to keep your movements slow and controlled then slowly lower your body into the vehicle. Tuck your head into the vehicle. Keep your knees close to each other, as though they have been taped together, brace your abdomen as though you are about to be punched in the stomach and pivot your body as a whole without twisting or bending at the waist. You may grasp the steering wheel with your right hand to help you pivot. Use a lumbar roll or other support to help maintain good posture. Position the roll slightly above your belt to support the “small of your back”. Adjust your seat so that your knees are slightly lower than your hips. Try to avoid prolonged car rides- take frequent breaks. Before exiting, create adequate space by pushing your vehicle seat back as far as possible and move the steering wheel up and out of the way. To exit, first scoot slightly to the door side edge of your seat, then keep your knees together and pivot with the same cautions that you used to enter the vehicle. When your feet are shoulder width apart and firmly on the ground or running board, grasp the door and door frame, lean forward, but be sure not to bend your back, as you tighten your abdominal muscles. Slowly thrust your hips forward to stand up. Franklin Chiropractor