What are Disc Herniations

“Why is my back so sore?”

“Why is my neck so sore?”

While there are many reasons that people have back or neck pain, in this article we want to talk about Disc Herniations.

Intervertebral discs exist in the space between our spinal bones (called vertebrae). They have two components. An outer thicker layer called an Annulus Fibrosis contains a softer middle substance called the Nucleus Pulposus. A Herniation occurs when the integrity of the Annulus Fibrosis damages to the point that the Nucleus Pulposis either bulges the disc or completely pushes through the Annulus Fibrosis, thus extruding disc material.

When the disc herniates or bulges, there is potential for damage to the sensitive structures adjacent to the disc. These include the spinal cord and or spinal nerve roots. Herniations cause problems such as sciatica, and radicular (means radiating) pain. The seriousness of these injuries depends on location and neurological involvement.

Disc herniations represent a common cause of back and neck pain. The highest prevalence of lumbar (low back) disc herniation occurs in 30 to 50-year-olds with males having double the frequency of females.

Magnetic Resolution Images (MRI) used to evaluate disc herniations show that many asymptomatic people have features that support they have herniated discs, “slipped” or bulging discs.

The research shows that herniations are serious and should be evaluated and managed by competent, trained professionals, such as a Chiropractor.

Disc Herniations respond well to conservative care. Conservative care often limits the needs for surgery. There is little evidence to support that disc herniations respond to treatment with pharmaceuticals.

In the clinic, we see many patients who have neck or back pain, where herniation is a component of their pain.

Your Body’s Support

Our bodies require a lot of support. The good news is that the body’s necessary support is innate. Sometimes people will seek outside supports, such as orthotics and bracing, and at times these are clinically relevant. This article will focus on how your body supports itself.

In good stories, there are protagonists and antagonists. In healthy bodies, there are protagonist muscles that promote movement and antagonist muscles that perform the opposite function of the protagonist’s muscle. When these muscles are in proper balance, that indicates that we are balanced, supported and have ‘good’ posture.

An example of this muscle relationship is the forearm articulation relative to the arm that occurs at the elbow. When the biceps contracts, the triceps is inhibited, and the hand moves towards the shoulder. When the triceps contracts, the biceps is inhibited, and the hand moves away from the shoulder. The biceps causes flexion of the elbow, and triceps creates the extension of the arm at the elbow. What if the biceps and triceps fire at the same time? When the protagonist and antagonist muscles fire at the same time, this is a condition called dystonia.

Now if we look at the body, there are hundreds of articulating (moving) joints that we observe. For each joint to articulate it requires one or more agonists and one or more protagonists. The body and its joints do not move in 2 dimensions, so often more than one muscle is required to promote a movement.

The tone of these muscles provides the support necessary for us to move, to sit, to lie down or anything else where we sustain a position. When these muscles are healthy, have the right tone, and are conditioned, we move well. One indication of a healthy body is a healthy posture.

Posture problems associated with weak internal support by your muscles that we commonly see include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Hunchback
  • Rounded Shoulders
  • Head Forward Posture
  • Low Shoulder
  • Pelvic Tilt
  • Sway Back
  • Flat Back
  • One Leg Stance

One of the ways we clinically describe muscle imbalance comes from Janda a physiotherapist from Prague. We call the one that causes problems with the head and neck Upper Cross Syndrome, and the one that affects the hips and pelvis lower cross syndrome. The Picture below describes the imbalances.


You do not have to live with “bad” posture. We work with many clients to help diagnose and treat their posture and muscle balance problems. It is rewarding to see our patients who were stooped and firm stand tall and move easier. It is worthwhile to see someone feel more confident because they feel better about their appearance.

We are here for you 100%. we would love to see you stand tall.


We have all seen it. Athletes covered in bright stripes of blue or pink. This is not part of their regular uniform, but a taping application known as Kinesio-tape. Kinesio derives from Latin for moving, and this tape differs from a traditional approach to taping in that it allows the muscles and joints that it surrounds to move.

Athletes covered in Kinesio-tape

Kinesio-tape is used as a rehabilitation-focused taping technique that facilitates the body’s healing while stabilizing and supporting muscles and joints without restriction to the body’s range of motion. Kinesio-tape also extends the in-office soft tissue mobilization performed at HALO Clinic.

Known benefits of Kinesiotaping:

  • Orthopedic
  • Neuromuscular
  • Neurological
  • Alleviates Pain
  • Facilitates Lymph Drainage (Decreases Local Swelling)

Like any therapy. The benefits are based on proper evaluation and assessment of the clinical conditions. That is why at HALO Clinic we always start with a complimentary consultation. If we believe we can help you, we do a paid assessment. Kinesiotaping is one therapy we use to treat and support applicable health conditions successfully. Kinesio-tape can be applied in the rehabilitative and chronic phases of injury as well as for injury prevention.

We have treated and supported many conditions with Kinesio-taping at HALO clinic in Calgary. Some of those conditions where we have used Kinesio-taping as part of our treatment approach include the following:

  • Achilles Tendonitis
  • Arm Pain
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Ergonomic and Posture Problems
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome
  • Headaches
  • Head Forward Posture
  • Hip Pain
  • Low Back Pain
  • Muscle Spasm
  • Repetitive Strain Injury
  • Rotator Cuff
  • Shin Splints
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Whiplash

The Next time you see an athlete covered in tape enjoying their sport, know that you could be as well.

Here for you 100%.

Soft Tissue Injuries and Healing

In the clinic, I consistently see people who are trying their best to be healthy. This is represented in healthy food choices, a focus on sleep, and a conscious effort to exercise. Despite our best efforts injuries still happen, and we still suffer breakdowns in our health.

One of the injuries that we see often is soft tissue Injury. This includes damages to muscles, tendons and ligaments, which may occur as a result of trauma or repetitive strain. Both are significant in their impact and outcomes in our personal pursuits of health.

Traumatic tissue injuries are impactful and affect our daily lives. These happen from accidents sports injuries, slips, falls and other accidental ways. Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs) occur when we perform a similar activity repetitively, we don’t rest properly, we do too much or do not naturally use the soft tissue.

Regardless of the injury is Traumatic or RSI in origin, the healing process is similar.

Acute Stage – The acute stage starts at the time of injury and lasts about 10 to 14 days. This is when the body is responding to the perceived damage. Sometimes also called the inflammatory phase, the body floods the area with blood, and immune cells to promote healing. Acute trauma often presents as red, swollen or bruised areas of tissue. Whereas RSI presents with tenderness and swelling in the area. During this stage, more severe injuries are diagnosed due to their severity at onset.

During the acute stage seeking care from a qualified health practitioner such as a Chiropractor is essential. Proper and differentiated diagnosis is critical for long term outcomes. This includes physical examination, diagnostic testing as indicated and initial care to relieve the pain and stabilize function.

Improper care or diagnosis in the Acute Stage will promote decreased healing over time.

Subacute or Relief Stage – The subacute Stage starts at about 10 to 14 days and goes for about 6 weeks. By this time the body is well on its way to recovering from the injury. Your immune cells have rebuilt or are rebuilding the tissue, and you have or are regaining use of the affected tissue.

Working with your Chiropractor during this stage will yield better long term results. The idea is to continue to increase mobility while keeping the injury stable.

Rehabilitation Stage – This stage starts at about 6 weeks and goes until the involved tissue is healed. During this stage of healing, we are concerned about strengthening and supporting the systems that were previously compromised and trying to prevent a return of symptoms.

This stage is directly proportional to the blood supply of the tissue. For example, highly vascular muscles heal faster than ligaments that are less vascular. Muscles will complete this stage around 6 to 9 months. Tendons will take 9 to 12 months, and Ligaments can take 12 to 18 months.

Working with a Chiropractor or Massage Therapist at this stage will help to ensure a complete recovery. The clinical goal here is to maximize function and reduce tissue scarring and adhesion. This combination provides the best outcomes.

Life should not hurt. We are here for you 100%.

Benefits of Soft Tissue Massage

Benefits of Soft Tissue Massage 

by Christine Webb RMT

There are numerous health benefits achieved when receiving a soft tissue massage.

It is far more than self-indulgence; it is a brilliant health investment in you.

Soft tissue massage includes a range of massage depths, pressure and duration, working to relieve tension in muscles, tendons, ligaments and fascia.

Many health insurance plans cover massage therapy as a result of its recognized benefit to overall health

Even the gentle, soothing nature of Swedish style massage with long flowing strokes and pressure that is “just right” vs forcefully deep, helps to reduce the damaging effects of the stress hormone Cortisol.

Benefits Include:

Decrease Muscle Pain

Soft tissue massage is an effective way to alleviate muscular pain. 

When long hours at work start creating pain, regular massage treatments can help counter the effects of stress, sleep loss and long hours on the computer. The good news is the absence of pain makes it easier for you to be productive at work and happier at home too.

Improves Circulation

Massage brings helpful circulation to damaged, stiff or tense muscles, providing them with the abundant blood supply they need to promote healing. Massage also improves lymphatic flow and strengthens your immune system.

Decrease Muscle Tension

Many aspects of current life can be stressful. We often hold that stress as tension in our body, resulting in pain and discomfort which then causes further stress!

Our neck, shoulders and low back are common stress/pain areas. Massage therapy is a natural, pleasurable and time effective way to deal with this.

Relaxation, i.e. absence of muscle tension is essential for one’s well being. Stress in people’s lives is on the rise. With regular soft tissue massage, you can relax your body and your mind.

Reduced muscle tension promotes deeper longer sleep.

Even the Mayo clinic recognizes that sleep quality issues can be helped by massage therapy.

Mental Health

Mental Health has become a topic of global awareness. Reducing stress and anxiety becomes part of the solution.

The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a study highlighting that massage decreased depression and anxiety, and increased happiness.

Furthermore, pain can be a trigger source of anxiety, hostility, tension, and depression. Consistent massage sessions can help alleviate this.


Headaches are often related to neck and shoulder muscle tension. Massage therapy is a proven way to help relieve neck and head pain. Water intake is an often-overlooked part of headaches as well. Eight glasses a day is the base recommendation


Preventative care is the best way to maintain your emotional and physical well-being.

We look forward to having you become a regular receiver of massage therapy and its many benefits.

Functional versus Pathological

Today we here the word ‘functional’ about many concepts in healthcare;

Functional Medicine
Functional Neurology
Functional Fitness
Functional Health

Medicine and healthcare are in the middle of a paradigm shift where patients no longer want a pathological perspective. This model is the idea of waiting and surveying for a disease to show up.

We see patients wanting a holistic view of their complex health conditions. That is why we have shifted our diagnostic methods to focus on physiological markers of health.

The old model is waiting for the presence of diseased tissue, cell change or disease markers.


1. The body is a “machine” composed of separate systems reduced into constituting parts.
2. Emphasis focuses on the identification of disease and pathological tissue change.
3. Diagnosis is extremely specialized.
4. Treatment intention is the reduction or ‘management’ of symptoms.
5. The health of the individual utilizes comparison of their disease markers against charts, statistics and test results to a “normal population.”
6. Relies on established disease patterns or pathological markers to make a diagnosis.
7. Health metrics consist of disease absence. As long as someone does not have a condition, then they are considered healthy.


1. The body is a dynamic, complex interconnected system of mind, body, and emotions.
2. Emphasis focuses on the imbalance or dysfunction in normal physiology.
3. Diagnosis integrates information from many different systems and methods.
4. Treatment addresses the underlying sources of disease and dysfunction.
5. The health of the individual considers subjective and objective information based on optimal physiological function for that individual.
6. Early prediction of dysfunction allows initial treatment and prevention of further breakdown.
7. Health metrics based on a continuum, within the spectrum of health to disease. Intervention can be applied at every stage of the range to restore or improve health and wellness.

In practice, this means that a Functional Practitioner considers beyond the concept of disease (whether your tests are normal or abnormal), into what is optimal.

Functional Practitioners assess health based on physiological markers such as your blood values, emotional health, fitness and movement present.

We do not have to wait to be sick, weak or dying to get the health care we need. We use functional assessments all the time to improve and restore the health of our clients.

We are here for you 100%.

Life gets healthier!

Beautiful or Just Not Ugly?

Years ago I heard a speaker use provocative questions to engage the audience.

Would you rather be smart or just not dumb?
Would you rather be beautiful or just not ugly?
Would you rather be happy or just not sad?
Would you rather be successful or just not a failure?
Would you rather be loved or just not ignored?
Would you rather be healthy, or just not sick?

The logic seemed simple as I listened. The speaker craftily pointed out that we should embrace what we want instead of avoiding what we do not want.

Often our actions in life and health are based on avoiding things we do not want.

I don’t want to be lonely.
I don’t want to seem stupid.
I don’t want to be fat.
I don’t want heart disease like my father.
I don’t want diabetes like my brother.
I don’t want to be sick.

Instead of embracing the ideas of not wanting bad things, we should start to embrace the ideas of what we do want.

I want to experience love and connection.
I want to be informed and intelligent.
I want to be healthy, lean and fit.
I want to have endless energy.
I want to be healthy

What do you want?

Dr. Suess wrote in his book “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!”.

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”

Not sure where to start?

Life and Health can be great; they do not have to be ‘just not hard.’

Life Should Not Hurt.

We are here for you.