(Bulging, or Herniated): These are discs (spongy and shock absorbing tissue between the bones of the spine that keep the vertebrae separated) that have, through either sudden or long-standing pressure on them, lost their normal shape, and bulge out of their normal positioning placing pressure on the nerve roots or spinal cord. This pain can range from mild to severe and does, in some patients, travels into the shoulders, arms and/or hands. If the disc issues are in the lower back, pain and other symptoms can travel into the buttocks and one or both legs. If present for some time, atrophy of the shoulder, chest or arm muscles, or buttocks, legs, and feet are often noted, along with the loss of strength of the arms and hands, more with lumbar discs, the butt, legs or feet. Conventional (medical) treatment for this type of pain is usually oral pain-relieving medications, or anesthetic drugs being injected directly into the disc and nerve root area. With conventional methods of treatment, bed rest for a week to a month is also often recommended. Ice, ultrasound or electrical stimulation treatments might also be employed. Often, surgery ends up being performed. When explaining our approach to correcting bulging or herniated discs, it is often helpful to bring up the image of a marshmallow cookie, …two pieces of cookie above and below a marshmallow, the cookies representing two of the bones in the neck or low back, and the marshmallow the disc. If we squeeze one side of the cookie, the marshmallow bulges out. This can be likened to a bulging or herniated disc. The disc, of course, presses on and irritates the nerve root at that level, causing pain and dysfunction. You will note in our simplistic, yet accurate cookie analogy, that the causative issue lies not with the marshmallow, but rather the squeezing together of the cookies. If we release the pressure and separate the cookies, the marshmallow has at least some ability to come back into alignment between the cookies. Specifically delivered chiropractic adjustments to the affected area have the ability to release some, if not all the pressure on the disc, which can help to reduce or eliminate some, if not all of the herniation or bulging, and thereby remove the pressure from the nerve root and stop the pain. Very importantly, we then teach the patient what to do to reshape the alignment of the bones of the neck and/or lower back, as well as to balance disc material over time, so pressure does not recur. It’s important to note that when surgery is performed, the disc only is wholly or partially removed, and nothing is usually done to restore the normal placement of the bones, nor improve other discs in the spine or the optimal alignment of the spine. Post surgery unless this type postural restoration is implemented, one can be almost certain that the spinal segment just above or below the surgically treated area will speedily degenerate in the same manner as the original disc, within 3 to 5 years, often requiring additional treatment and/or surgery. The sensible way to deal with disc bulges and herniations is to find and correct the structural cause. This is chiropractic’s strong suit.