Car Wrecks and Disc Herniations

When we think about car wrecks we generally think about whiplash.  However, disc herniations are common with car wrecks.

Spinal disc anatomy is such that a jelly center exists in each disc.  With enough force, this jelly center will be blown out the back of the disc resulting in a spinal disc herniation.  When the jelly center is herniated outside the disc it will cause massive inflammation and compression on the spinal nerves causing shooting, radiation pains that go down you leg or arm. 

The mechanism for a disc injury is interesting.  When in a rear end collision, you are compressed against your seat.  This compression straightens the normal curves in your spine resulting in a lengthening  of the spine. This extremely rapid lengthening puts massive compression forces on the spinal disc and can result in a disc herniation.  

Some chiropractors treat disc herniations very successfully.  It requires much more than just getting an adjustment.  We use a combination of therapies to help the disc to heal. Our office uses a special table called a flexion/distraction table which causes pumping and traction forces on the spine.  These forces can pull the herniation back into the disc so the disc can then heal.   It is impossible for a disc to heal with the jelly center (nucleus pulpulsus) in the way.  We have pre and post MRI's from patients we have seen in our office demonstrating we can indeed heal a disc.  

A key aspect to our care is the spinal strengthening portion.  We spend significant time strengthening the spine and core so injured patients can return to daily activities with as little limitation as possible.  Each visit we adjust the patient's spine to increase as much function as possible.  The combination of these therapies have proven to be very effective.  If your core is not strengthened the benefits will be limited, however, with a strong core, the benefits can be long lasting.  My wife suffered from a disc herniaton for 4 years until she met me.  I took her to a chiropractor that did proper rehabilitation procedures  (obviously before I had gone to chiropractic school) and now, 12 years later, she is still able to enjoy life with minimal to no discomfort. Not something a low back surgery patient can often say.

There is a great study that took patients who had suffered on average for 5 years with a disc herniation with pain radiating down their leg.  These patients received chiropractic care combined with spinal strengthening similar to what we do in our office.  At the end of their treatment 90% of those in the study had an average of 77%  improvement in symptoms.  A follow up over a year later 80% of the patients rated their improvement by 80%.
J Manipulative Physiol Ther 2009 (Nov);   32 (9):   723–733

If you or someone you know is suffering from a car wreck or a disc herniation that would like to avoid surgery.  Please have them call our office.  We would be happy to provide a free consultation and tour of our facility. 801-798-2515