• Dr. Julie Mclaughlin & Dr. Jacob McNamara

What Is a Herniated Disc and How Do You Treat It?

Updated: Oct 6


Watch the Video Now! Hey Dr. McNamara here, and I'm coming at you with another Wellness Wednesday. I'm here at McLaughlin Care and all I'm going to talk a little bit about today is this little guy right here, a herniated disc. So come check out the video and learn more about it.


So this is a very common complaint that we see in our office is patients coming in and they have low back pain. Sometimes it may be irritating that nerve that's associated with that disc, and it can be traveling down their leg causing symptoms, such as sciatica, Things start off, I'm going to start with a little bit of normal anatomy of a lumbar, so of lumbar vertebrae and disc.


So this is the normal anatomy. This is what a lumbar vertebra is supposed to look like. It's got a really big thick body. And then in between each of these bodies is a nice, healthy-looking disc. The disc is like a jelly donut, and I love jelly donuts. But what we don't like about this jelly donut is that they herniate.


You can see in this model, it can come in. It irritates these nerves back here. Now, the reason it mostly does that is that we got a lot of ligaments and other structures here that it can't go forward. So when we herniate it and we start to bend forward and push, it pushes it back towards the spinal canal, into those nerves. And that's that.


So what we want to do to treat this is we want to get that disc back to that normal height. You can see in comparing these two, this barely has any healthy disc space when this is a nice thick disc. So we're going to do that by performing a technique called flexion and distraction. And what that's going to do is it's going to pull apart the vertebrae, giving it more space.


Then we're also going to be treating these joints back here, which are called Fossette joints by giving them space by putting the body into flection as well. So this treatment, what it looks like is we use a special table, and this table was specifically designed and it can bend. This is going to allow us to do flush infrastructure.


Now, bear with me a little bit here, cause I only have the model, but as you can imagine, there would be legs coming out here and then we would strap the individual in, and then I would use a handle to go lift up and down on the table. But since we just have the spine here, I'm just going to use my hand.


So what we want to do is we want to target the disc that is causing the irritation and this model, it's that L four L5 disc. So to treat it, what I would do is I would contact the spinous process. That's the pointy part in the back of the vertebra. And I would perform an upward traction motion, some pushing up while I'm doing that and then going to bend the table and I'll bend it with my knees so you can see, and then that's going to give that disc, that range of motion and that space.


Then what happens Is a reverse vacuum effect where that jelly that's protruding out of that disc actually gets absorbed back in and it stops irritating those nerves and gets rid of those symptoms of low back pain in sciatica.


So if you guys, you are anyone you know, is experiencing any low back pain that could be traveling down the leg. It could also occur in the cervical spine as well. Give us a call. We'll do an examination. We'll determine the pain generator and then we'll treat it accordingly.

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