Disc Injury: An East Greenwich RI Chiropractor’s Perspective

disc injury can be helped by a chiropractor

At Greenwich Bay Chiropractic, we specialize in the treatment of disc injuries in East Greenwich RI. Astonishingly, up to 80% of the population experiences low back pain at some point in their lifetime, and it is the #1 cause of disability in the US. There are many causes of low back pain, including lumbar strain and vertebral subluxation, with disc injury on the more severe end of the spectrum.

In treating a disc injury, it is important to understand the anatomy of the disc. Intervertebral discs are made of fibrocartilage and rest between each vertebra in the spine. They act as shock absorbers in the spine, absorbing the stress and pressure that everyday life places on our spine. The disc is made of a jelly-like center called the nucleus, surrounded by several cartilage rings. When the rings of cartilage tear, the nucleus bulges out, placing pressure on the nerves exiting the spine and triggering severe pain in both the back and down the legs.

There are stages of disc bulges and herniations:

  • disc protrusion
  • prolapsed disc
  • disc extrusion
  • sequestered disc

Stages 1 and 2 are incomplete, whereas 3 and 4 are complete herniations. Pain resulting from a herniation may be combined with radiculopathy, which means neurological deficit. The causes can range from acute injury to chronic repetitive stress over time, where the disc wears down, degenerates, and weakens. This is why it is essential to seek care immediately if you are experiencing these symptoms.

How We Treat Disc Injuries In East Greenwich RI

Play Video

Comprehensive Consultation and Exam
Getting to the root cause of any condition always starts with a comprehensive consultation and exam. By understanding the injury’s mechanism and the specific features of the condition you’re experiencing, we can more easily find and treat the actual cause of the problem. We want to hear about these details and how the injury affected your overall health and life.

Once we know your side of the story and have asked questions pertinent to your condition, we perform the necessary orthopedic, neurological, functional, and chiropractic tests to fully understand the condition's presentation. In almost all low back disc injuries, we will take X-rays to see the quality of the spine, structural damage, and any wear and tear, such as arthritis in the spine. This process allows us to select the best treatment protocols for you to resolve your disc injury effectively.

Play Video

Specific Chiropractic Care in East Greenwich RI
Chiropractors are specifically trained to address subluxations in the spine. Subluxations are misalignments in the spine that place pressure on the nerves and interfere with the normal communication of nerve signals. This interference results in pain and dysfunction throughout the body, including muscle tension, leg pain, or even weakness.

Play Video

By addressing these misalignments, correcting them, and taking pressure off the nerves, we allow your spine to function properly. We can also help decompress the disc by opening up the disc spacing and creating a negative pressure to centralize the disc and take pressure off the nerves. This works to decrease pain and improve function. We know that proper function and structure in your spine make the difference when it comes to the pain you’re experiencing. It also prevents the Low Back Groundhog Day, where problems return again and again.

Play Video

Custom Therapeutic Exercise Plan
An exercise plan tailored to your specific condition and needs will help strengthen and stabilize healthy spinal structure and address muscle weakness and imbalance. The best part about the exercise plans at Greenwich Bay Chiropractic is our online portal with video tutorials, so you’ll never be lost or confused. This at-home exercise plan will bolster our work in the office so that the corrections to your misalignments, those subluxations in your spine, can hold for longer, giving you more time to heal and get on top of your symptoms.

Spinal Decompression
Spinal decompression is an absolute game changer when it comes to neck and low back disc problems. Often with a disc bulge or herniation, you may be experiencing pain down your legs or even into your arms. Spinal decompression is a computer-run protocol that opens disc spacing to relieve the pressure on nerves due to a disc injury. The amount of pull can be adjusted for maximum comfort and effectiveness. In many cases, spinal decompression has helped people avoid injections or surgery.

Play Video

Common Causes of Disc Injury in East Greenwich RI

Repetitive Motion and Stress
Hard physical labor jobs such as landscaping, roofing, or construction can cause repetitive stress on the spinal discs. Typically these jobs include a lot of flexion and rotation of the spine, which has been proven to add stress to the spinal discs. This usually develops over time and happens subtly and gradually until the “straw that breaks the camel’s back” occurs.

Heavy Lifting
Heavy lifting, such as squats and deadlifts in the gym, and everyday activities such as moving furniture, lifting bags of mulch, or shoveling can cause a disc injury. This usually happens with improper lifting techniques and biomechanics that put increased pressure on the disc. Proper lifting technique is paramount even with the most subtle activities, like lifting groceries into the trunk of your car.

Auto Accidents
Auto accidents big and small can cause disc injury more often in the neck due to whiplash force and trauma. Rapid flexion of forward bending of the spine can push disc material backward towards the nerve roots exiting out of the spine. Greenwich Bay Chiropractic can provide the care you need to get you back to pre-injury status. We always work with your auto insurance and attorney to ensure the process is smooth and stress-free for you.

Degenerative Disc Disease
Degenerative disc disease is an age-related process where the discs break down and degenerate over time. However, varying degrees of disc degeneration can be seen at different ages as certain risk factors can increase the process. Most patients with DDD can feel very stiff, especially in the morning, as the disc shrinks and closes down the foramen - the opening where the nerve exits the spine. Risk factors include obesity, smoking, and labor that is hard on the spine. This process can’t typically be reversed but can be slowed, as optimizing function of the spine can result in less wear and tear day to day.

Respiratory Illness
While less common, the action of coughing and sneezing can create pressure on the discs, especially from a prolonged illness. Whether it’s the flu, the common cold, COVID, or even bronchitis, frequent coughing over a prolonged period can sharply increase intra-abdominal pressure, which puts a lot of pressure on the discs. If the discs are already weak from other lifestyle factors, coughing or sneezing can push the problem over the edge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can chiropractors in East Greenwich RI help with disc problems?

Of course! Disc problems are common causes of low back pain. We can safely and effectively treat disc problems without drugs or surgery with chiropractic adjustments and a multifaceted approach to care using decompression and a customized therapeutic exercise program.

Is it safe to go to a chiropractor with a herniated disc?

Yes, it is safe. We tailor your care to your specific condition through careful consultation and exams. We can safely and effectively get on top of the root cause of the problem.

How long does it take for a disc herniation to heal?

Healing time with disc injuries varies from person to person. It’s influenced by how well a person heals and if they have any complicating factors like arthritis.

What are the signs of a herniated disc in your back?

While many signs and symptoms of a herniated disc can vary based on the individual, often, herniated discs can cause arm pain or leg pain that feels like an electric shock down the leg or the arm. It is usually in a line pattern as opposed to a broad pattern. Depending on the severity of the herniation, this may occur with or without back pain.

Can chiropractors make things worse?

The great news is that chiropractic is a very safe and effective natural treatment option. It is usually a great first option rather than a last resort as you can often avoid risky and expensive procedures.


9:00am - 12:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm

9:00am - 12:00pm
3:00pm - 6:00pm


Saturday & Sunday

Greenwich Bay Chiropractic

16 Main Street
East Greenwich, RI 02818
Phone: (401) 408-4430
Fax: (401) 443-8818