A man being attended by a chiropractor.

Can a Chiropractor Fix a Herniated Disc?

Chiropractor for a herniated disc in Anchorage or Juneau: Herniated discs can cause all kinds of pain and problems that make everyday tasks impossible. But, as you’ll find out if you keep reading, one of our highly trained chiropractic doctors can help you heal so you can get back to your pain-free life. 

Seeing a chiropractor for a herniated disc is a safe, non-invasive, and effective treatment option. Chiropractors treat herniated discs in a number of ways that vary by patient, but most herniated discs can be treated with a combination of spinal adjustments, rehabilitative therapy, exercises, and posture tips.

Are Chiropractors Good for Herniated Discs?

Now that you know what causes disc herniation, let’s talk about how to fix it. Chiropractic care is ideal for herniated discs for several reasons. Chiropractic doctors are spinal specialists, and they know how to align the spine correctly, which can take the pressure off the discs, helping the herniation to heal naturally. And they do this with non-invasive and drug-free techniques. 

But since medical care should always be based on science, let’s take a look at some different studies about chiropractic care for herniated discs.

Can Chiropractic Care Help a Herniated Disc in the Back?

Herniated discs often happen in the back — especially the low back. Sometimes there’s no apparent cause for this, but there is always hope, as the following studies demonstrate.

Chiropractic Manipulation vs Conventional Therapy

One study of 51 women with back pain put up manipulation therapy against conventional therapy options such as heat, pelvic exercises, posture tips, and lifting tips. 

Not only did the chiropractic manipulation therapy provide more pain relief and improvements in range of motion, but the average session times were shorter. In this case, spinal manipulation therapy worked well to reduce back pain in less time than other conservative techniques alone.

Disc Prolapses

Another study showed the effects of chiropractic manipulation on two patients with small disc prolapses. In both patients, spinal manipulation reduced the symptoms and the size of the disc prolapses.

A Disc Herniation Case Study

This case study details the treatment of a 26-year-old man with a herniated disc in his low back. This caused pain in his back, down his left leg, and in the left side of his groin. He also suffered from muscle weakness in the left leg. He’d been dealing with the pain for nearly two years thanks to an athletic injury. 

His chiropractor treated him primarily with mechanical-force, manually assisted adjustment techniques, which eliminated his symptoms within three months. The study noted that his symptoms had not come back a year after the treatment when a follow-up was performed.

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Can a Chiropractor Fix a Herniated Disc in the Neck?

While the low back is commonplace for a herniated disc, it’s also possible to have one in the neck. Unfortunately, many people opt to do nothing about it and wait to see if it goes away. This is the exact wrong thing to do like the long-term effects of a herniated disc in the neck can be detrimental. But, seeing a chiropractor for a herniated disc in the neck can help you ensure that you have no lasting negative effects.

Severe Pain Caused by Herniated Disc

A woman having her neck treated by a chiropractor.

This study details the treatment of a 60-year-old woman who was suffering from severe pain in the neck and the left shoulder, as well as a constant burning sensation in her left arm. Upon diagnosis, the patient was found to have a large herniated disc in the neck. 

Since her pain was so severe, the chiropractic doctor started treating her every day until her pain receded. The treatment included manipulation, cervical traction, and interferential therapy. 

After just three weeks of treatment, her neck and shoulder pain was completely gone. And her arm pain would soon follow. Within five months, she was back to normal again, not experiencing any pain, weakness, or numbness.

Chiropractor or Surgery for Herniated Disc?

Sometimes, when herniated discs are treated by physicians, the only available courses of action are steroid injections, drugs, and surgery. And while it’s true that some extreme disc herniations will require surgery, the majority of them will heal better without invasive treatments. 

Another case study explains the case of a 54-year-old man who had sciatica and back pain due to a herniated disc. He could not perform regular activities and couldn’t even walk without pain. He had been treated with steroids and surgery, but neither treatment worked. So, when invasive treatments didn’t work for him, he went to a chiropractor. 

Within seven visits, his symptoms began to fade. The chiropractic doctor used a combination of spinal manipulation, core strengthening exercises, posture adjustments, and other rehabilitative exercises. The patient continued to have a positive response after he was released to home exercises and limited chiropractic care.

Herniated Disc Chiropractic Treatment Techniques

When you visit a chiropractor for help with a herniated disc, the doctor will determine treatment based on many factors. If it’s your first visit to the chiropractor, he or she will have you answer typical questions about your medical history. Your chiropractor will also perform a physical exam and test your reflexes to determine the extent of any numbness or weakness around the affected area. This diagnosis is important for determining whether you actually have a herniated disc or a lumbar sprain

You may have X-rays taken and the chiropractor will look at the health of your entire spine, and your physical health in general. Sometimes what you think is a herniated disc is actually caused by something else. Looking at the health of your entire spine is key to a proper diagnosis.

If your chiropractor determines that chiropractic treatment is the best course for care, he or she will develop a personalized plan based on different factors. These are generally:

  • Your level of pain.

  • Your overall activity level.

  • Your lifestyle and overall health.

  • The severity of the herniation.

  • The health of your spine.

Some of the different modalities that are used to treat herniated discs include:

1) Spinal Manipulation

Your chiropractor uses their hands to slowly but forcefully align the spine and take pressure off the affected disc or discs.

2) Flexion-Distraction

Involves the use of a specially designed table to stretch the spine while the chiropractor works on the affected area.

3) Pelvic Blocking

Addressing Underlying Issues

Chiropractic care for herniated discs is about more than just making the pain go away, although that is a major concern. Since chiropractors are trained in treating the body as a whole, they will often try to determine what the underlying issues are that caused the herniated disc. Even if the cause is simply aging or an injury, there are things you can do to help prevent a herniated disc from happening again.

An x-ray image of a spine with red color in the lower part.

When to See a Chiropractor for a Herniated Disc?

Chances are that the first clue you have a herniated disc is when it happens. The pain is so sudden and so intense, most people are unable to stand upright, some say they cannot breathe, and nearly everyone goes to the emergency room for some pain medication.

You should see your chiropractor as soon as you can. Make an appointment the moment you return from the ER. If the ER did imaging, bring those along, otherwise, your chiropractor’s office should be able to do imaging to confirm the diagnosis.

Starting treatment sooner, rather than later, will put you on the road to healing that much faster. Herniated discs can take months to heal and even longer if you take a wait-and-see approach, lying on the sofa and popping over-the-counter pain meds.

Lying down only makes things worse, believe it or not. Make an appointment at our Juneau clinic for a same-day appointment and start feeling better sooner than you think!

Herniated Disc: Causes and Symptoms

The human spine is made up of bones in a column. Between each of these bones, or vertebrae, is a disc. The only exception to this being the atlas and axis vertebrae which allow the head to swivel and nod. The rest of the vertebrae need discs to perform three major functions:

  • Shock absorption from walking, running, jumping, lifting, and twisting.

  • To help hold the spine together, acting as ligaments.

  • To allow for mobility of the spine. Without them, we would have a hard time arching or twisting our backs.


As we age our spinal discs become harder and more brittle. This is why herniated discs tend to affect people over the age of 35. The overall cause of disc herniation is usually a combination of natural disc degeneration and pressure on the spine. This pressure can happen in a number of ways, including:

  • Heavy Lifting and Twisting

  • Obesity

  • Lack of Exercise

  • Too Much Sitting & Poor Posture

  • Injury


The symptoms of a herniated disc vary depending on where the disc is and what nerve or nerves it’s irritating. For some, there are no symptoms. For others, symptoms include:

  • Pain with specific movements (bending, twisting, walking, running, sitting, etc.)

  • Numbness and pain— usually on one side of the body.

  • Muscle weakness.

  • Pain radiating down the legs and/or arms.

  • Numbness, burning, or aching of the area around the spine.

  • Pain that increases or becomes apparent at night.

  • Pain radiating down the sciatic nerve, also known as sciatica, can be a symptom of a herniated disc.

Which Body Parts Do Herniated Discs Affect?

Below are the four areas of the back or spine where disc herniation can occur. Technically, any disc may become herniated, and when this happens nearby nerves can produce pain or have an impact on relevant parts of the body. This could be the legs, arms, chest, neck, and so on.

  • Lumbar Disc Herniation
  • Cervical Disc Herniation
  • Thoracic Disc Herniation
  • Paracentral Disc Herniation

Chiropractor for Herniated Disc: Conclusion

Multiple studies have shown how safe chiropractic care is. And even more, studies are published every year highlighting how chiropractic care for a herniated disc is effective. When medication and surgery or the two other best options, it’s no wonder more and more people are turning to chiropractors for herniated discs and other back issues. 

This growing evidence is the basis for Better Health Chiropractic’s groundbreaking Alaska Back Pain Protocol. Our chiropractic doctors have been helping Alaskans with their herniated discs for 20+ years. Our thousands of happy patients and positive reviews tell the story of effective, personalized care for each and every patient that walks through our doors. 

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