Going to a chiropractor for run of the mill neck pain seems like a good idea, but what about something more severe like a cervical bulging disc?
An honest to goodness true cervical bulging disc creating pain in the arm are not really as common as many think. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a patient with leg or arm pain who thought, or had been told, that his or her symptoms were from a bulging disc get complete resolution of the arm or leg pain in maybe 2 or 3 visits. These cases were obviously not disc bulges, but are often mistaken for a disc bulge by someone who does not know what to look for.
Oddly, our clinic recently had 4 cervical disc bulge patients come in a row. Just odd how that works out. And these were clear-cut, no need to waste money on an MRI, disc bulges in the neck. Bakody’s sign and all (a situation where the patient finds the most relief by putting the affected hand on top of the head to find relief). The fear in a patient’s eyes when you tell them they have a disc bulge is almost palpable, which is why I very quickly launch into the “these types of cases rarely need surgery” speech.
Somewhere along the way the dogmatic belief that disc bulges all require surgery got started and society never seemed to have gotten the message that this is rarely the case. Certainly over the years I’ve had patients who, despite pulling out all the stops and doing everything we can, have still progressed to surgery. But this usually not the case. In our office we treat with soft tissue techniques to address the muscle, ligament, tendon and fascial problems, in office traction as well as home traction units or pillows and manipulation.
Manipulation??? Of a neck that has a disc bulge?
Along with the dogma of the obligatory surgery mentioned above, “they” seemed to have created the dogma that chiropractors can’t treat disc bulges. Good thing no one ever told me this little tidbit.
And, just in case you think I’m alone in this crazy belief that chiropractic manipulation can help a disc bulge in the neck, I present this particular article. Researchers took 50 patients with a MRI confirmed cervical bulging disc and had them undergo cervical spinal manipulation for treatment. Here’s the results:
- At 2 weeks, 55.3% were “improved.
- At one month the number rose to 68.9%.
- At 3 months a respectable 85.7% were improved.
- As early as one month, decreases in neck pain, arm pain, and Neck Disability Index (NDI) scores were seen.
- Of the patients who had initially been identified as subacute or chronic, 76.2% were improved at 3 months.
- On top of all of this, NO adverse events were reported.
Keep in mind this is just chiropractic spinal manipulation and not the full arsenal of tools that the typical chiropractor would bring into play. These numbers are solid and, although the study was small, certainly adds to the concept that chiropractic care absolutely should be initiated early on for any patients with a cervical bulging disc. But of course, I’m just a little biased…