What you must know about herniated discs is not what you probably think you know already… It is painfully obvious to us that most patients have little factual knowledge about herniated discs and what the diagnosis actually means to their lives. Hopefully, this discussion will help to correct this problem.
Herniated discs have a terrible reputation as being the cause of chronic back and neck pain in countless millions of people. Herniated discs also have the reputation of defying treatment and scoffing at surgical care. Worst of all, herniated discs are seen as being instrumental in causing disability and ending any possibility for a normal life. All of these perceptions are almost universally believed among people who have herniated discs, as well as by the general population as a whole.
This essay provides information you must know about herniated discs if you are to beat the odds and not become another sad statistic of chronic back pain. We will detail actual facts related to herniated discs and what the diagnosis should mean to you, rather than what you most likely currently perceive your situation to be…
What You Must Know About Herniated Discs Causation
The vast majority of people who are diagnosed with a herniated disc blame it on some occurrence, such as a fall, sporting injury or car accident. This is normal and might be a conclusion suggested by a doctor or possibly assumed by oneself. However, the reality is that most herniated disc existed before these scapegoat triggers, even if pain did not. If the disc was not herniated before, it probably would have herniated eventually even if the accident did not occur.
The fact is that herniated discs are completely normal to experience in the spine, particularly in the mid to lower neck and the lower lumbar region. Almost all adults have one or more of them. Many people, such as myself, have multiple herniated discs (I have 12). Herniated discs are mostly caused by the normal process we call aging. Do you know how to avoid aging? Me neither… Even if you never hurt your back in any way, there is a very good chance that you would develop herniated discs at some point in life.
Another common myth is that the more clinically significant the disc abnormality seems, the worse its symptomology will be. This is really off base. Most doctors rate disc atypicality significance as being rated from low to high: bulging disc, herniated disc, ruptured disc. We have seen many completely ruptured and fragmented discs cause no pain, but have also witnessed some terribly painful and pathological focal bulging discs which did not present significantly, but were obviously compressing nerves and causing symptoms. There is little correlation between pain potential and the type of herniation present. This is fact.
What You Must Know About Herniated Discs Symptoms
This section can start very simply. The vast majority of herniated discs will not cause symptoms. If they do, the symptoms will resolve organically with time alone and will not require treatment. These facts encompass the overwhelming number of disc abnormalities.
It is certainly possible for any type of herniated disc to cause pain due to mechanical compression of a spinal nerve or the spinal cord, particularly in combination with other forms of stenosis. However, most disc herniations do not compress nerves and if they do, will not cause continuing compression for long. Furthermore, continuing compression of a nerve will NOT cause chronic pain. This is scientifically illogical. Instead, the result will be progressive numbness and weakness in innervated affected body parts.
It is also possible, but much less common, for herniated discs to develop an annular tear or rupture and spill irritating proteins onto sensitive nerve fibers, causing lasting pain which can last a long time. This is called chemical radiculitis and is a different type of pain than that blamed on most herniated discs.
What You Must Know About Herniated Discs Treatment
The vast majority of herniated discs do not require treatment. Most will not cause pain now or ever (although pain is very often mistakenly blamed on them). Painful and otherwise symptomatic herniated discs will usually resolve with the passage of time alone. Treatment should not be needed in most case profiles.
When a herniated disc becomes a chronic pathology, then treatment is indicated. Some disc issues can be cured permanently using nonsurgical spinal decompression. Others might require minimally invasive surgery. Surgery is rarely actually needed and also has a very high failure rate (mostly due to the epidemic rate of misdiagnosis).
Constructive symptomatic care such as chiropractic, massage, acupuncture and physical therapy will not cure a herniated disc, but may encourage healing and pain relief. However, most patients instead rely on pharmaceutical therapies which are toxic and WILL cause harm to the body. The longer they are used, the worse this often irreparable damage will be. Patients who write to us asking why they still have a herniated disc after taking opioid pain meds for months or years need to wake up. They are literally killing themselves with their own ignorance.
The best treatment we have seen for herniated disc pain is certainly knowledge therapy. The reason it works so well is not its actual its efficacy, but instead is simply because most herniated disc are scapegoats and were never the true symptomatic source. Knowledge therapy gets to the heart of pain and undermines its true origin, ending suffering for good and doing so without any health risks whatsoever. This approach is not used by most doctors, since it circumvents medical business. In essence, it does not make doctors any money…