Herniated Disc Chiropractic Treatment Techniques

A herniated disc is a painful condition that can interfere severely with your daily life by causing debilitating lower back pain and limiting mobility. There are several herniated disc treatment options, including painkiller medications, cortisone injections, and physical therapy. In some cases, when these treatments do not work out, your doctor might recommend surgery to relieve your symptoms permanently. But as with most people, you would want to avoid going under the knife.

However, the good news is that conservative disc treatment methods like chiropractic care can be a viable alternative to provide lasting pain relief due to a herniated disk in a completely natural way. Read on to learn about how the gentle touch of a chiropractor can fix a herniated disc. 

But for a better understanding, let’s first learn a little about what a herniated disc is, including its causes and symptoms. 

What Is a Herniated Disc?

The spinal cord comprises many bones called vertebrae. These bones have soft rubber-like discs sitting between them with a jelly-like material in the middle called the nucleus. The spinal discs are protected by a hard outer layer known as an annulus. The discs absorb pressure and enable you to perform basic movements. They provide a cushion and prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. 

Also known as a slipped disc or bulging disc, a herniated disc occurs when the soft and spongy material in the center of the disc moves out of its original position by tearing through the annulus. A disc protrusion commonly occurs in the lumbar spine or lower back but might also happen in the cervical spine, starting from the neck, causing severe pain.


A protruding disc can put pressure on the nearby nerve roots and tissues, resulting in various sensations. Depending on the location in the spinal column, you can experience symptoms in several areas of the body connected to the specific nerve root that is impinged. These mainly include:

  • Dull, sharp, or burning pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness

Lumbar Herniated Disc

A disc protrusion in the lower back causes symptoms in the lower back, with pain traveling to your hip down to the leg and calves, called sciatica. A lumbar disc herniation often extends down to the foot, and bending, coughing, and sneezing can aggravate the pain.

Cervical Herniated Disc

A herniated disc in the neck can lead to sharp pain in the neck or the shoulders, which could radiate all the way down to the arm and wrist. 

Herniated disc pain is typically felt upon movement and subsidies when resting. Sneezing or coughing can produce sudden, sharp pain by exerting pressure on an impinged nerve. 

Causes and Risk Factors

Diagnosing the exact cause of a disc herniation can often be challenging. However, some of the main reasons include: 


Aging is the most common factor that leads to disc degeneration, whereby the annulus weakens gradually, and the intervertebral disc becomes more susceptible to protruding or rupturing. As degenerative disc disease occurs in the later part of life, a disc bulge is more common in people aged between 35 and 55.


Performing repetitive movements like twisting, bending, or lifting heavy objects for extended periods can strain and weaken the spinal disc over time.


In rare cases, a sudden shock or force like whiplash or a fall can also lead to a herniated disc.

Some other factors include:

  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Poor posture
  • Sedentary lifestyle

Chiropractic Treatment Techniques That Help a Herniated Disc

Chiropractic treatment can significantly ease chronic pain and discomfort due to a disc injury. A chiropractic adjustment works by restoring the normal alignment of your spine by applying sudden, low-impact force to your joints. That helps reduce strain on the affected nerves and restore motion, reducing or eliminating pain and enhancing mobility. Depending on the severity of the misalignment, you might need a few or several sessions to obtain complete pain relief.  

But at your first visit, your chiropractor will go through your medical history to ascertain if any previous event could be the cause of your disc problem. They will conduct a thorough physical exam, which involves checking the overall function of the spine. They will determine whether the muscle reflexes are intact or if your muscle strength has decreased and check your walking ability. 

They might also run imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to find the source of the disc issue by ruling out other conditions that might be causing your symptoms and evaluate the extent of the condition. 

Based on the diagnosis, your chiropractor will develop an individualized treatment plan for your condition. That could include the following all-natural yet highly effective techniques:

Spinal Manipulation

A spinal manipulation is the first-line treatment for a spinal misalignment. Studies show that 80% of patients treated with spinal manipulation recovered in two weeks compared to 67% patients given heat treatment..

Using their hands or a handheld device, the chiropractor will exert controlled pressure on specific areas of the spine in a slow or quick motion as you lie on a table, aligning your vertebrae by moving the protruded disc back in its right place. Consequently, that will relieve strain off the pinched spinal nerve, providing pain relief. 

During the adjustment, you might hear some clicking or popping noises. These sounds are not indicative of anything serious or to worry about, but only a sign of tissues getting stretched and gas pressure leaving your spinal joints.

Spinal Decompression 

The spinal decompression or flexion-distraction technique involves lying on your stomach on a specialized table that stretches your spine in a very gentle and controlled motion. By manipulating the spinal muscles and joints in a pumping rhythm, the nucleus stops compressing the nerve and returns to its original position within the annulus. 

Pelvic Bocking

Pelvic blocking techniques work by placing foam pelvic blocks or cushioned wedges under your pelvis as you lie face down on them. That gently stretches your pelvis and moves your disc away from the surrounding impinged nerve.

Note that chiropractic manipulation does not always provide immediate results. While you may notice slight pain relief after the first session, you will likely be recommended multiple adjustments until the disc gradually moves into its place.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy involves the use of hands by the chiropractor to apply gentle force to the joints and muscles to relieve pressure and tension from the spinal nerve. Manual therapy techniques bring multiple benefits, including reduced pain, inflammation, and stiffness while improving blood flow, muscle relaxation, and joint range of motion.

Manual therapy is an umbrella term, and a chiropractor can employ several hands-on techniques to treat a herniated disc, including but not limited to:

Myofascial Release 

Myofascial release targets the fascia, which are connective tissues around the affected muscles/ nerves. It exerts continuous gentle pressure on these muscles, which helps release tension, alleviating compression on the spinal nerves and providing pain relief. 


Manual traction therapy involves gently pulling the spinal column to create space between vertebrae as you lie on a table. That helps decompress the affected disc and take pressure off the affected nerves while enhancing blood flow to the affected area.

Electrical Stimulation

Electrical stimulation is the application of electrical currents to targeted areas in the body to stimulate the muscles and induce contractions. Your chiropractor will attach electrodes to various parts of the skin to transmit these electrical impulses, which will help increase blood circulation to the specific affected area, reducing inflammation and pain.

A study based on 100 patients shows that electrical stimulation is a potent treatment method for sciatica due to a lumbar disc herniation, effectively alleviating pain symptoms. 

Your chiropractor may use this therapy combined with other treatments to manage pain and boost healing as part of a broader treatment plan.

Therapeutic Exercises

A chiropractor may recommend therapeutic exercises in combination with spinal adjustments as part of your personalized treatment plan. They may prescribe specific rehabilitative exercises that strengthen the core muscles supporting the back, enhancing spinal flexibility and stability and improving spinal function. These could include planks, pelvic floor exercises, and crunches, to name a few. 

Following these chiropractor-guided exercises can reduce pain and discomfort and strengthen the spine while mitigating the risk of a herniated disc occurring again.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care for Herniated Discs

Chiropractic therapy is a holistic treatment approach to restore your spinal health and provide pain relief in the long term. Some of the notable benefits of this conservative treatment option over conventional methods include:


The biggest advantage of seeking chiropractic help is that it is a pain free alternative to invasive methods like cortisone injections and surgical intervention. A spinal surgery comes with inherent risks, can be painful, and often requires lengthy recovery time and aftercare. Chiropractic sessions do not involve the use of needles or going under anesthesia and are an all-natural way of healing your spine.

Reduces or Avoids Medication Use

While prescription drugs can be highly effective, they can have certain unwanted side effects, such as drowsiness, gastric distress, nausea, insomnia, and more.

NSAIDs may provide short-term comfort, but they do not address the root cause of the problem, which means your pain is likely to reoccur anytime. They can also be harmful when taken for an extended time, leading to serious health complications like renal or kidney failure or heart disease.

Targets the Root Cause 

As a comprehensive and holistic wellness approach, a chiropractor identifies and addresses the underlying cause contributing to the problem instead of providing a band-aid solution by just treating the symptoms. In the case of a herniated disc, the chiropractor will fix your spinal misalignment over a few short appointments, which will alleviate inflammation and the subsequent pain caused by it. 

Your chiropractor might also suggest a few lifestyle changes to prevent a disc herniation in the future, such as regular exercises or stretches to strengthen the spinal muscles, improving your posture, adopting proper lifting techniques, or maintaining a healthy weight. 

Suspect a Herniated Disc? Logan Osland Chiropractic Has Your Back!

We are a trusted provider of safe and effective chiropractic care in Ventura and surrounding areas. Dr Osland is a board certified chiropractor possessing extensive experience in performing various spinal adjustments to relieve debilitating back and neck pain. 

We take pride in offering high-quality patient treatment and satisfaction by relieving painful disc herniation symptoms with minimal discomfort and educating patients about ways to prevent relapse and  

Do not let back or neck pain from a herniated disc limit your activities and take a toll on your physical and mental health. Schedule your appointment with Logan Osland Chiropractic by calling us today to treat the problem in its tracks before it gets worse.


Bydon M. Herniated disk. 2023 Oct 24.

Snelling N J. Spinal manipulation in patients with disc herniation: a critical review of risk and benefit. International Journal of Osteopathic Medicine 2006; 9(3): 77-84.

Grassi R. Chiropractic Care and Back Pain: Non-Invasive Treatment for Bulging, Ruptured, or Herniated Discs (Slipped Discs). 2019 May 10.

About the Author

Picture of Dr. Logan Osland

Dr. Logan Osland

Dr. Logan Osland, D.C., is a Doctor of Chiropractic deeply rooted in the principles of hard work and community service. Beginning his career in construction, Dr. Osland’s early encounters with back pain led him to chiropractic care, sparking a passion that directed his educational and professional journey. He earned his Doctorate from Palmer College of Chiropractic and has been an active member of the chiropractic community in Ventura, California, since opening his own practice in 2004. Not only does he hold multiple certifications, including in sports medicine and as a strength and conditioning coach, but he has also served as a team doctor for various local sports teams. When not in the clinic, Dr. Osland enjoys an active lifestyle with hobbies like surfing, hiking, and spending quality time with his family.