Bulging Disc

Recently a former patient entered our office with this question. Does Dr. Collins treat herniated or bulging discs? I was floored because that's mostly what we do. I realized I must be doing a poor job of educating patients as to what I do behind those closed doors. Unfortunately too many patients come to our office after they have already had some surgical procedure. I would prefer to work with a patient prior to surgery.

     A disc is made of tough outer fibers, called annular fibers. They have a inner portion that is a soft jelly like substance, called the nucleus. When the disc is injured the jelly portion will squish out of the center position causing a bulge or herniation. It's much like a water balloon that when squeezed on one side, it bulges to the opposite side. When this happens in your back, it can press against a nerve causing back pain or if it bulges enough can press against nerves that will radiate down your arm or leg.

     While many people are doing the latest medical treatment for these condition, called spinal epidurals. This is where they inject cortizone into the spine area where the herniation is present. I don't recommend this form of treatment, because there is always a risk of hematoma or infection, anytime you puncture the skin. I have also seen cases where the nerve is accidentally hit by the needle causing severe nerve pain and parasthesis. Most herniated disc can be managed through the use of my tables in the treatment rooms; there are some occasions where I use my decompression table. I use that table on the more complicated cases, such as an extruding disc/ruptured disc, spinal stenosis and some severe cases of arthritis.

     We have a state of the art decompression table, which can adjust the table to only affect the disc that's involved. It regulates just the right amount of pressure on the disc to affect the retraction process. The time on the table is very relaxing and painless. While you lay there the table works on the disc to gently return the gel portion of the disc to its normal position. Many patients fall asleep while the treatment is being performed. Treatments can last as much as 4 to 6 weeks depending on the severity of the bulge. It is important to note that many patients will experience some relief in only a few treatments. Treatment trials have been performed, and have found that the treatments are in the 86% ranges of success. It must also be noted that, patients have reported no further problems with their backs for up to 5 yrs. post decompression.