Herniated Disk

A herniated disk, also known as a slipped disk or a ruptured disk, is well treated using naturopathic medicine.

Your spine is made up of small bones (vertebrae) that are cushioned by small cartilage disks. These disks consist of a tough outer layer (annulus) and a soft inner layer (nucleus). A disk is described as herniated when a small portion of the nucleus pushes out through the annulus into the spinal canal. This can cause nerve irritation and result in pain, numbness or weakness in your back, arms or legs.

A herniated disk is most often the result of a gradual, aging-related degeneration of the annulus combined with lifting heavy objects “using your back”.

Seek professional healthcare if you experience disabling back pain for more than a week, or less severe back pain for more than three weeks.

Seek emergency medical care if your back pain (corresponds with):

  • Loss of bowel control
  • Numbness or weakness in one or both legs
  • Increases rather than decreases over time

Symptoms of a Herniated Disk

It is possible to have a herniated disk with no symptoms. Possible symptoms of a herniated disk include:

Arm or leg:

  • Pain
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness

Treatment of a Herniated Disk at Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, the goal of herniated disk treatment is to reduce pain intensity, restore full range of activity and prevent recurrence.

Conventional treatment for a herniated disk may include physical therapy, and variety of medications, including pain medications, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, muscle relaxants (e.g., valium), narcotics (e.g., codeine, Vicodin®) and gabapentin. These medications may have serious short- or long-term side effects.

For this reason, you may choose to try natural treatment to possibly avoid use of conventional medications, or together with conventional medications in order to decrease dosages of conventional medications required to manage your herniated disk symptoms.

Naturopathic treatment of any chronic health concern must be recognized as a process that involves:

  • Identifying specific treatment goals
  • Development by your naturopathic doctor, of a thorough understanding of all factors affecting your health, including physical, psychological, emotional and lifestyle factors
  • Development of a comprehensive treatment plan
  • Implementation and maintenance of that plan through periodic monitoring and adjustment

At Toronto Centre for Naturopathic Medicine, a typical approach to treating a herniated disk may be to:

Where appropriate, a number of therapeutic options are available, to be used alone, or more often in a complementary fashion, including:

Treatments provided by naturopathic doctors are covered by most extended healthcare plans.


Herniated disk [Internet]. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; [cited 2010 Jan 25]. Available from: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/herniated-disk/DS00893.