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Slipped Discs & Chiropratic Care

Spinal manipulation is the term used when chiropractors use their hands to adjust a patient’s spine, so that misaligned vertebrae are correctly put back into place.

Scientific research into the effectiveness of spinal manipulation for lower back pain didn’t begin until 1985, but the results have consistently shown it to be a beneficial treatment that relieves pain in the majority of patients who use it as a therapy. 

What hasn’t been researched very closely is the relationship between chiropractic care and intervertebral syndrome, which is commonly referred to as having a “slipped disk”. Because the lower back pain resulting from a slipped disk doesn’t have much to do with misalignments of vertebrae but rather a leakage of fluid from the disc itself to other areas of the back, there is a question if chiropractic care is a viable method of treatment for this condition. A recent article takes a look at research touching on this subject that began as far back as the 1950’s and runs up to current articles of today.

Early research showed that orthopedic surgeons considered surgery to be a last resort for treating lumbar disk lesions and recommended that very conservative treatment options were explored first. Only after all attempts to treat the disk without surgery had failed was it recommended that the disk be removed. Before this route was taken the preferred course of action was to see if the disc could be manipulated by placing the patient on a table and having the orthopedic surgeon press on the back in a particular way until a “crunch” sound was heard. Many patients were noted to have experienced pain relief in this way, although a few had their condition made worse.

In the 1960’s another study looked at lower back pain and its relationship to protruding disks. A manipulative form of therapy, in which the back was pushed until symptoms disappeared was found to be effective. This chiropractic-like maneuver required the patient to rotate the spine away from the pain to the limit of its range while the doctor pressed down. The fact that the disk protrusions lessened by manipulation, showed the effectiveness of manual manipulation in lower back pain management. 

The late 70’s saw another study on manipulation of intervertebral discs by the hands of orthopedic surgeons which showed positive results for lower back pain. This information was shared with a cautionary statement that this form of therapy is considered suspect from a traditional medical standpoint.

But from the modern perspective looking back at these early studies, it is apparent that spinal manipulation does have its benefits for back pain caused by dislocated disks.

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Used under Creative Commons Licensing courtesy of Javier Morales

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