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A herniated disk can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg.The location of your symptoms may vary, depending on where the herniated disk is located along your spine. Most herniated disks occur in your lower back (lumbar spine), although they can also occur in your neck (cervical spine).

The most common signs and symptoms of a herniated disk are:

  • Arm or leg pain. If your herniated disk is in your lower back, you'll typically feel the most intense pain in your buttocks, thigh and leg below the knee. It may also involve part of the foot. If your herniated disk is in your neck, the pain will typically be most intense in the shoulder and arm. This pain may shoot into your arm or leg when you cough, sneeze or move your spine into certain positions.
  • Numbness or tingling. People who have a herniated disk often experience numbness or tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves.
  • Weakness. Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken. This may cause you to stumble, or impair your ability to lift or hold items.

Treatment

To treat a herniated disc, your chiropractor will develop a treatment plan that may include spinal manipulation and other chiropractic techniques to help ease your herniated disc symptoms. This will be an individualized treatment plan, but it may include manual therapy and therapeutic exercises.

Flexion-distraction Technique for Herniated Discs
A common chiropractic technique is the flexion-distraction technique, which can be used to help address herniated disc symptoms.

Flexion-distraction involves the use of a specialized table that gently "distracts" or stretches the spine. This allows the chiropractor to isolate the affected area while slightly "flexing" the spine using a pumping rhythm.

There is usually no pain associated with this treatment. Instead, the flexion-distraction technique's gentle pumping to the painful area allows the center of the intervertebral disc (called the nucleus pulposus) to assume its central position in the disc. Flexion-distraction may also improve disc height.

This technique can help move the disc away from the nerve, reducing inflammation of the nerve root, and eventually any associated pain and inflammation into the leg (if there is any related to your herniated disc).

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