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Slipped Disc

Discs do not actually "slip".  Rather, they may herniate or bulge outward.  A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part of the disc.

Atlas Wellness Centre in Bedford Can Help to Restore the Natural Function of Damaged Spinal Discs

You may have heard the term "slipped disc" used to describe a low back injury. Discs do not actually "slip". Rather, they may herniate or bulge out from between the bones. A herniation is a displaced fragment of the center part or nucleus of the disc that is pushed through a tear in the outer layer or annulus of the disc. Pain results when irritating substances are released from this tear and also if the fragment touches or compresses a nearby nerve. Disc herniation has some similarities to degenerative disc disease and discs that herniate are often in an early stage of degeneration.  Herniated discs are common in the low back or lumbar spine.

What causes discs to herniate?

Many factors decrease the strength and resiliency of the disc and increase the risk of disc herniation. Life style choices such as smoking, lack of regular exercise, and inadequate nutrition contribute to poor disc health. Poor posture, daily wear and tear, injury or trauma, and incorrect lifting or twisting further stress the disc. If the disc is already weakened, it may herniate with a single movement or strain such as coughing or bending to pick up a pencil.

How do I know if I have a disc herniation?

Herniated discs are most likely to affect people between the ages of 30 and 40. Disc herniations may be present without causing pain. The most common symptom will be pain in the area of the herniation that may radiate across the hips or into the buttocks. You may also experience numbness or pain radiating down your leg to the ankle or foot. If the herniation is large enough, you may notice weakness with extension of your big toe and you may be unable to walk on your toes or heels. In severe cases of lumbar disc herniation, you may experience changes in your bowel or bladder function and may have difficulty with sexual function.

How is a disc herniation treated?

Mild to moderate disc herniations can usually be treated conservatively with stretching, exercise therapy and non-invasive spinal care. More advanced cases will often require some form of spinal decompression, such as traction or mechanical decompression, in conjunction with spinal care. 

Occasionally, a herniation may be severe enough to warrant surgical intervention. These cases are usually reserved as a last resort when other forms of therapy have failed to relieve pain, or if there is significant compression of the spinal cord or nerves.

At the Atlas Wellness Centre in Bedford we have many experts that specialise in natural interventions for a variety of conditions. Our team is made up of two former doctors of chiropractic who have gone on to specialise in advanced techniques to rehabilitate spinal abnormalities/injuries, nerve damage, and offer first class education in nutrition and exercise science all of which can help restore the natural function of spinal discs. We also have one chiropractor, one sports therapist and three massage therapists on the team, all of whom work as a team to reverse the root cause of abnormal spinal disc problems. Contact our clinic today!


A nonsurgical approach to the management of patients with lumbar radiculopathy secondary to herniated disk: a prospective observational cohort study with follow-up. Donald R. Murphy, DC, Eric L. Hurwitz, DC, PhD, and Ericka E. McGovern, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2009 Nov-Dec;32(9):723-33.

Chiropractic management of low back pain and low back-related leg complaints: a literature synthesis. Dana J. Lawrence, DC, MMedEd, William Meeker, DC, MPH, Richard Branson, DC, Gert Bronfort, DC, PhD, Jeff R. Cates, DC, MS, Mitch Haas, DC, MA, Michael Haneline, DC, MPH, Marc Micozzi, MD, PhD, William Updyke, DC, Robert Mootz, DC, John J. Triano, DC, PhD, and Cheryl Hawk, DC, PhD. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2008 Nov-Dec;31(9):659-74.

Chiropractic outcomes managing radiculopathy in a hospital setting: a retrospective review of 162 patients. Kim D. Christensen DC, DACRB, CCSP, CSCS, Kirsten Buswell DC. J Chiropr Med. 2008 Sep;7(3):115-25.

Chiropractic manipulation in the treatment of acute back pain and sciatica with disc protrusion: a randomized double-blind clinical trial of active and simulated spinal manipulations. Valter Santilli, MDa, Ettore Beghi, MDb,*, Stefano Finucci, MD. The Spine Journal 6 (2006) 131-137. 

Safety of spinal manipulation in the treatment of lumbar disk herniations: a systematic review and risk assessment. Drew Oliphant, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Mar-Apr;27(3):197-210.

Disc technique: An adjusting procedure for any lumbar discogenic syndrome. Harvey Getzoff, DC, DICS. J Chiropr Med. 2003 Autumn;2(4):142-4.

Low back pain and the lumbar intervertebral disk: clinical considerations for the doctor of chiropractic. Stephan J. Troyanovich, DC, Donald D. Harrison, DC, PhD, and Deed E. Harrison, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Feb;22(2):96-104.


Case Studies:

Resolution of low back and radicular pain in a 40-year-old male United States Navy Petty Officer after collaborative medical and chiropractic care. Gregory R. Lillie DC, MS. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine (2010) 9, 17-21.

Chiropractic management of a 47-year-old firefighter with lumbar disk extrusion. Schwab MJ. J Chiropr Med. 2008 Dec;7(4):146-54.

Radiographic disk height increase after a trial of multimodal spine rehabilitation and vibration traction: a retrospective case series. Ian Horseman DC., Mark W. Morningstar DC. J Chiropr Med. 2008 Dec;7(4):140-5.

Resolution of cervical radiculopathy in a woman after chiropractic manipulation. Wayne M. Whalen DC. J Chiropr Med. 2008 Mar;7(1):17-23.

Chiropractic treatment of a pregnant patient with lumbar radiculopathy. Ralph A. Kruse DC, DABCO, Sharina Gudavalli DC, Jerrilyn Cambron DC, MPH, PhD. J Chiropr Med. 2007 Dec;6(4):153-8. 

Chiropractic and rehabilitative management of a patient with progressive lumbar disk injury, spondylolisthesis, and spondyloptosis. Simon G. Excoffon, DC,a and Harry Wallace, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2006 Jan;29(1):66-71.

Conservative management of a patient with lumbar disc disease: averting lumbar disc surgery. James E. Greathouse Jr., DC. J Chiropr Med. 2005 Autumn;4(3):162-76.

An integrative treatment approach of a patient with cervical radiculitis: A case report. Leanne Apfelbeck, MS, DC. J Chiropr Med. 2005 Spring;4(2):97-102.

Management of a chronic lumbar disk herniation with chiropractic biophysics methods after failed chiropractic manipulative intervention. G. Phillip Paulk, DC, and Deed E. Harrison, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Nov-Dec;27(9):579.

Chiropractic management and rehabilitation of a 38-year-old male with an L5-s1 disc herniation. Christopher J. Hammer, DC, DACRB, FACO. J Chiropr Med. 2004 Autumn;3(4):145-52.

Chiropractic/rehabilitative management of post-surgical disc herniation: A retrospective case report. Gary M. Estadt, DC, DACRB. J Chiropr Med. 2004 Summer;3(3):108-15.

Far-lateral disk herniation: case report, review of the literature, and a description of nonsurgical management. Richard E Erhard, DC, William C. Welch, MD, FACS, Betty Liu, MD, and M. Vignovic. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2004 Feb;27(2):e3.

Cervical radiculopathy treated with chiropractic flexion distraction manipulation: A retrospective study in a private practice setting. Jason S. Schliesser, DC, MPH, Ralph Kruse, DC, and L. Fleming Fallon, MD, DrPH. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 2003 Nov-Dec;26(9):E19.

McKenzie diagnosis and therapy in the evaluation and management of a lumbar disc derangement syndrome: A case study. Steven M Santolin, DC. J Chiropr Med. 2003 Spring;2(2):60-5.

Management of acute lumbar disk herniation initially presenting as mechanical low back pain. Colin M. Crawford, BAppSc(Chiro), and Robert F. Hannan, MB, BS. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 May;22(4):235-44.

Use of cervical spine manipulation under anesthesia for management of cervical disk herniation, cervical radiculopathy, and associated cervicogenic headache syndrome. James Herzog, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Mar-Apr;22(3):166-70.

Chiropractic rehabilitation of a patient with S1 radiculopathy associated with a large lumbar disk herniation. Craig E. Morris, DC. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1999 Jan;22(1):38-44.

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*" ... it's just amazing!"

Malcolm & Pat Pete

Atlas Wellness Centre (Atlas): Can you tell me your names, please?

Malcolm: Yes, Malcolm James Pete.

Pat: Pat Pete.

Atlas: And what made you want to come and see us in the first place.

Malcolm: Well, I’ve been suffering with severe pain in lower back and legs for two, three years really. I had several hip operations which supposedly were designed to cure the problem. But they had absolutely no effect and I would say in desperation, I saw your advertisement in the local paper. It sounded very good. So I thought, “Let’s give this a try.”

Atlas: And how would you say that having the health problems affected your life before you came in?

Malcolm: It stopped me doing most things that I enjoy doing. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t go for walks. I couldn’t garden. Found it extremely difficult to do any jobs around the house and was virtually confined to a wheelchair.

Atlas: And how would you say things have changed since you started having the care here?

Malcolm: Since I’ve had the care, I’ve lost 95 percent of all the pain that I was suffering with. I rarely use the wheelchair now unless in fact I’m – got a lot of walking to do and I can rely on a walking frame and now I can get about comfortably with a walking frame. My only problem now is that it has been so long since I’ve walked that I’ve got to build up my stamina and balance before I can really try to walk without any support at all.

Atlas: And Pat, would you say you noticed changes with Malcolm?

Pat: Definitely. He’s not taking any painkillers now. He was on quite a lot of painkillers. Within about three weeks to a month, he had dispensed with all the painkillers. It’s so good for both of us. He’s much more independent. I don’t have to push him around in a wheelchair, so it has made a lot of difference to my life too. Yeah, it’s just amazing!

Atlas: Excellent. What would you say to someone who’s maybe a bit worried, a bit – about coming here for the first time?

Malcolm: I would tell them to come along without any concerns at all. I found the people – all of the people I’ve come in contact with to be very helpful. They explain what’s going to happen and there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. But the benefits can be immense.

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