Spinal Decompression: Find Your Pain Relief

Spinal Decompression: Find Your Pain Relief

If you suffer from neck or back pain, you’re not alone. 60-80% of adults do and some of it is debilitating. If your neck or back pain feels chronic, you might be a perfect candidate for spinal decompression. 

What is Spinal Decompression?

Spinal decompression is a non-surgical treatment  It’s used primarily to treat disc injuries in the neck and lower back. For example, chiropractors often work with patients on this gentle spinal stretching. 

According to Dr. Murray Johnston DC, BSC in the Journal of Neuroimaging Volume 8, Number 2 1998, spinal decompression serves two functions:

  1. It “sucks” in herniated discs or bulges so they’re back in their rightful place
  2. Thickens and heals the disc

The spinal decompression procedure is gentle. Your chiropractor uses tools and techniques to gently separate the vertebrae from each other. This creates a vacuum inside the discs. Some call this “vacuum effect” a negative intra-discal pressure. While back pain relief may not be immediate, these microscopic separations happen over time (usually 4 to 6 weeks). The end results can be quite dramatic after 10 to 30 sessions.

Spinal Decompression Therapy was developed by Allan E. Dyer, Ph.D., M.D. It’s widely recognized as the only effective and non-surgical treatment for back and neck pain. This includes severe cases of disc herniation, degeneration, arthritis, stenosis, and pressure on the nerve. When patients follow directions and fulfill treatment, spinal decompression has an 86% success rate. Spinal Decompression has FDA clearance.

How Does Spinal Decompression Work?

According to the American Spinal Decompression Association (ASDA), “The patient lies comfortably on his/her back or stomach on the decompression table with a set of nicely padded straps snug around the waist and another set around the lower chest.” The patient undergoes the procedure fully clothed on this computer-controlled table.

Firstly, each treatment lasts about 30 to 45 minutes and consists of 20 to 28 treatments over 5 to 7 weeks. Treatment sessions may also include electric stimulation, ultrasound, thermotherapy (heat), and cryotherapy (cold) before, during, or after each session. Proper patient screening is imperative and objectives for treatment must be clear between patient and doctor for treatment to be successful.

For a 3D animated video of the procedure, you can visit the American Spinal Decompression Association.

According to Spine-Health, “Not everyone with a bulging disc is a candidate for decompression (traction). ” Treatment requires soft tissue muscle work to relax deep core muscles to reduce the body’s reflex reaction to guard. In case you were thinking otherwise, you do want to consult with a trained medical practitioner. They’ll help you determine the best course of treatment. 

After consultation and or treatment with your chiropractor, you can adapt spinal decompression for your own home. As you may guess, successful home treatment requires following a set of prescribed exercises. Your chiropractor will help you with resources. 

In Doylestown, Pa., and surrounding areas, Dr. Jeff McQuaite successfully treats patients for spinal decompression. Call to book your appointment today at 267-247-7000.



Herniated Disc: Definition, Symptoms and Causes

Herniated Disc: Definition, Symptoms and Causes


Back pain can hit at the most random times. You bend down to pick up your dog’s leash and wham! You’re clutching your back in pain. 

Could it be a herniated disc? Maybe. Also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, if these discs crack open they can spill their gooey substance, hit the nerves and cause you to grimace in pain. 

You probably kow your spinal cord runs from the base of your spine to your neck. You may also know 24 bones known as vertebrae form your spine with flexible discs that fit in between the bones in your spinal column.

Filled with a jelly like substance, the flexibility of the discs help you bend, wiggle, run, dance, and do all the things people want to do that require flexibility. 

However, when a disc shifts out of place or ruptures and that fluid leaks out, it can bump up against the nerves and be painful.

Herniated Disc Definition 

Dictionary.com, defines a herniated disc asan abnormal protrusion of a spinal disk between vertebrae, most often in the lumbar region of the spine, causing pain due to pressure on spinal nerves.” 

Symptoms of a Herniated or Slipped Disc

When an invertebral disc cracks and the disc material leaks out, that material can irritate the surrounding nerves. The disc can also slip and press on a surrounding nerve which is often called a pinched nerve. 

As a result of a herniated disc in your lumbar, you can feel pain, tingling or numbness in your leg or legs. If the herniated disc is in your upper or mid back, you might experience that pain or tingling in your arms. 

The other thing that can happen is your discs can slowly wear away. This is typical in people with degenerative disc disease

In some cases, you can have a herniated disc and not even know it, there are a few common signs and symptoms:

  • Arm and/or leg pain
  • Numbness and tingling – usually on one side of the body
  • Weakness of your arm/leg
  • Pain that gets worse while standing

You can have a slipped or herniated disc in your neck or spine. Typically, symptoms are experienced only on one side of the body.

If the herniation is very large and presses on the spinal cord or the cauda equina in the lumbar region, both sides of the body may be affected, often with serious consequences. Compression of the cauda equina can cause permanent nerve damage or paralysis. The nerve damage can result in loss of bowel and bladder control as well as sexual dysfunction. This disorder is called cauda equina syndrome.

Spinal disc herniation can occur in different locations:

  • Cervical – These most often occur in the neck and symptoms can affect the back of the skull, the neck, shoulder girdle, scapula, shoulder, arm, and hand.
  • Lumbar – These occur in the lower back and Symptoms can affect the lower back, buttocks, thigh, anal/genital region and may radiate into the foot and/or toe. The most commonly affected nerve is the sciatic nerve that runs the length of your back and down your legs.

More common is general pain and symptoms like those mentioned above on the side of the body.

What Causes a Herniated or Slipped Disc? 

Your lifestyle, injuries, and age can lead to break down in these discs which then lead to pain. 

Disc herniation can result from general wear and tear. In other words, they’re more common as people get older.  Minor back pain and chronic back tiredness are indicators of general wear and tear which can lead to injury. However, if you have a job requiring lifting and squatting, then you’re more susceptible too.

People who are overweight are at greater risk too. Combine that with a sedentary lifestyle and you get weak muscles which lead to many aches and pains including things like a slipped disc.



Herniated Disc

How to Protect Your Spine

Regular exercise and good posture are two ways you can protect yourself from a herniated disc. Nothing crazy but walking, light cardio, and yoga/stretching are excellent ways maintain your flexibility. You’ll also want strengthen your core and lower back. If you need to lift heavy items, lift with your legs and not your back and use a back brace when possible. 

Massage therapy and regular chiropractor treatments will also help. 

Treatment for a Herniated or Slipped Disc 

Fortunately, a simple regimen of rest, heat and ice can help a herniated disc heal naturally. However, a professional diagnosis can set your mind at ease and help you feel better quickly. For a personalized herniated disc definition and how it applies to you, see Dr. McQuaite in Doylestown, Pa. He will x-ray you to pinpoint the problem and create a treatment plan for you. 

Can Chiropractic Care Help with Sciatica and Herniated Disc?

Can Chiropractic Care Help with Sciatica and Herniated Disc?


If you’re looking for a drug-free, effective treatment for sciatica or a herniated disc, chiropractic care may be able to help you.

Often these two conditions go hand in hand. First, there’s a herniated disc and then sciatica.

That’s not always the case, but it is common.

You probably want to know the difference between sciatica and a herniated disc and your options for finding safe pain relief.

Let’s start with the difference between the two.

What’s the Difference Between Sciatica and a Herniated Disc?

There are many different terms for lower back pain. You’ve probably heard of a slipped disc, a herniated disc, a pinched nerve, and sciatica, to name a few. You might wonder what the difference is and how your treatment should vary.

Namely, you do want a doctor’s evaluation to identify the cause of your lower back pain. This will likely include a physical exam to test your movement, muscle strength, and reflexes. Additionally, the doctor will probably press on parts of your back to identify the source of pain.

From there, you can map out a treatment plan. Chiropractic care can be part of your treatment plan.

First, a herniated disc can occur suddenly. Imagine picking up something heavy and feeling a shooting pain across your back. That could be a herniated disc. The good news is that with bed rest it’ll probably heal on its own.

However, it can lead to sciatica pain.

Here’s a quick breakdown. You know bones, tendons, nerves, ligaments, and discs make up your spinal column. In fact, there are 23 discs. Those discs act as shock absorbers between the spinal bones protecting them. However, those same discs start to flatten as you get older. They offer less cushion. It’s kind of like a mattress that flattens over the years.

When a disc is pressured — like when you pick up something heavy — it can crack. That’s what’s meant by a herniated disc.

Sciatica, on the other hand, relates to your sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in your body, and it runs from the base of your skull to your feet. When a disc flattens or cracks, it can press against the sciatic nerve.

Then, you’re likely to feel pain in your buttock and radiate down your leg. Now, you don’t have to have a herniated disc to experience sciatic pain, but it is a common cause.

A medical evaluation should help find the cause.

How Do You Treat Sciatica and a Herniated Disc?

Obviously, the treatment plan will vary from person to person. One’s medical history and the amount of pain they’re in will dictate the level of treatment.

Some will find success with lifestyle changes like adding yoga and massage treatments, while others may find themselves considering surgery. You probably know someone with debilitating pain that impacts their quality of life. Hopefully, they can find relief.

Considering the gamut of possible health conditions and circumstances vary widely, you may find yourself consulting “Dr. Google” as well as friends and family.

There’s nothing wrong with any of those, but it’s also good to consult a qualified chiropractor.

Chiropractic care is a safe and non-invasive form of pain relief. It can also be more cost-effective, and many chiropractors take insurance.

What to Expect From Your First Chiropractic Treatment

At McQuaite Chiropractic in Doylestown, Pa., Dr. Jeff McQuaite meets with you about your medical history and conducts an x-ray to see the state of your internal body.

Those x-rays can show disc problems and other areas where you may feel pain. From there, he’ll recommend a treatment plan of several visits. He may also recommend diet and exercise changes and other modalities such as massage therapy.

How Long Does a Chiropractic Treatment Take?

Most chiropractic treatments are quick. It only takes a few minutes, for your chiropractor can ask you a few questions and make your adjustments. In most cases, you can figure on a 10-15 minute window.

In summary, chiropractic care can often help with sciatica and herniated disc pain. At McQuaite Chiropractic in Doylestown, Pa, we offer non-surgical, non-invasive chiropractic treatments to improve your mobility and reduce pain. Are you ready to feel your best?

Do You Have a Herniated Disc?

Do You Have a Herniated Disc?

You can have a herniated disc and not even know it. That’s because the symptoms can be in your leg, foot or other body part that doesn’t seem related. Of course, all of your body’s movements are related to your spine in some manner so it is related.

You can have a herniated disc in your lower back or your neck area. Here are some common symptoms.

The most common signs for a herniated disc in the lower back (lumbar) are:

  • Leg pain – Some refer to this as “sciatica”. You may also experience “foot drop” (pain in ankle, weakness when raising the big toe).
  • You may also experience the radiation of pain down the sole of your foot and outside the foot.

The most common signs for a herniated disc in the neck (cervical region) are:

  • Weakness in the deltoid muscle in the upper arm or shoulder pain.
  • Weakness in biceps in the front of upper arm and wrist extensor muscles. This can be actual pain or “tingling” radiating to thumb side of the hand.
  • Weakness in triceps in back of upper arm to forearm and extensor muscles of fingers.
  • You may also experience pain, numbness or weakness when gripping with the hand down arm to little finger side of hand.

What exactly is a herniated disc?

Doylestown Herniated Disk Treatment

The problem occurs with one of the rubbery cushions (discs) between the individual bones (vertebrae). This spinal disc has a “jelly” like interior (nucleus pulpous) and a tougher exterior (annulus fibrosis). A slipped/ruptured disc is when the softer middle pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior. This irritates surrounding nerves causing pain.

The process happens in four stages:

  1. Disc degeneration – The disc is starting to dry out and is less able to absorb shock of movements.
  2. Prolapse – The form and position of the disc changes causing a slight bulge to begin to form.
  3. Extrusion – The jelly like nucleus breaks through.
  4. Sequestration – The nucleus pulposus breaks through and moves outside the disc in the spinal canal.

The causes of a herniated disc are not always the result of a tragic accident, but are commonly a result of the following:

  • Most often result from gradual, age-related wear and tear.
  • Lifting with back muscles instead of leg/thigh muscles.
  • Twisting/turning while lifting.
  • Subluxation – One or more of the bones of your spine move out of position.

Risk factors for herniated disc conditions:

  • Age – Usually seen between 35 and 45 with 35% appearing in males and 45% in females.
  • Weight – Being overweight strains your body.
  • Occupation – Those with physically demanding jobs, repetitive lifting, pulling or pushing and bending sideways/twisting are most at risk.

So…can your chiropractor help you with your herniated disc? Yes! Chiropractors are the only healthcare professionals with years of training to specifically address this type condition. They are trained to locate, reduce or correct subluxations by decompressing the vertebrae allowing the disc to heal itself without medications or surgery.

On initial examination, your Chiropractor will look for intact reflexes, loss of muscle strength and/or signs of muscle wasting, and loss of sensation along the path of the nerve. Diagnostic methods such as x-ray or MRI can determine some of this. The chiropractor will also conduct a complete spinal evaluation and careful exam of posture.

Some of the options for treatment are:

  • Spinal manipulation – Gentle/Low force techniques such as Flexion Distraction or Pelvic Blocking.
  • Manual Therapy – Ice and or ultrasound in the initial phase as well as guarded stretching exercises.
  • Therapeutic exercises
  • Decompression (traction)
  • Back brace specially fitted to address the injured area
  • Supplements to replace the lost glucose amino chondroitin

With either some or all of the above, a herniated disc takes approximately 12 weeks to heal.