become the mainstay for the diagnosis of disc problems, as it images the discs quite nicely. Your doctor may order an MRI if he or she feels it would be helpful in diagnosing a disc problem and determining the proper course of care for you. Most often, however, this is not necessary.

How are disc problems treated?

Luckily, in most circumstances, disc problems are easily treated with conservative interventions. Early in the course of an acute injury, your doctor of chiropractic will very likely set a goal of pain control, using several different physical modalities to reach it. Both ice and heat have shown effectiveness in managing the pain of acute low-back injury. Your doctor of chiropractic will help you determine which is most effective for you.

In addition, getting you back on your feet and moving as quickly as is safely possible is critical. Typically, the less time you spend in bed, the better off you are in terms of long-term results. You'll also need to learn not to be afraid to move. If you "baby" your back, in most cases, the long-term results will be worse.

Chiropractic spinal manipulation has also been demonstrated to be a safe and effective tool in the management of disc problems. Manipulation is especially effective when combined with therapeutic exercise.
In most circumstances, spine surgery and injections are not necessary in the management of disc problems- and they often cause more problems than they're worth. Your doctor of chiropractic will discuss all available treatment options with you and help you decide on the best course of action.

Can disc problems be prevented?

Recent scientific evidence suggests that the best way to prevent back pain, including disc injury-related back pain, is to stay physically active and exercise regularly. This generally means performing general fitness exercises, such as walking, running, and swimming. There is no solid scientific evidence, however, to suggest that any particular exercises designed to strengthen the back are more useful than others. Your doctor of chiropractic can design a specific exercise regimen to fit your needs.

It is also critically important to have "spinal awareness." Make a conscious effort, for example, to be aware of what posture you are maintaining when you sit, stand, lie down, work, and exercise. Lift objects with proper posture, including bending your knees, keeping the object close to your body, keeping your back straight and lifting with your legs. Never lift an object by bending over and twisting. You'll only invite a back injury.


This patient information page is a public service of the Journal of the American Chiropractic Association. The information and recommendations appearing on this page are appropriate in most instances, but they are not a substitute for a diagnosis by a specialist. For specific information concerning your health condition, consult your doctor of chiropractic. This page may be reproduced noncommercially by doctors of chiropractic and other healthcare professionals to educate patients. Any other reproduction is subject to ACA approval.


 
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