There are many things that can cause one to have a case of back pain. Some of them are non-serious, acute problems such as strained muscles, while others can be dire, chronic problems. One problem that can seriously affect the way that you live your life is the herniation of a spinal disc. It’s a problem that causes excruciating back pain that does not soon go away. In this article, we’ll discuss spinal disc herniation so that you can better understand the problem that it presents.
To understand spinal disc herniation, you need to understand how the discs that are in the back work. They are sandwiched between the vertebrae of the back, providing cushioning between the bones. They are made up of hard materials on the outside, but on the inside, there is a soft portion known as the nucleus pulposus. In a case of spinal disc herniation, the outer portion of the disc, known as the annulus fibrosus is torn. The tear in this hard substance allows some of the inner nucleus pulposus to slip outside of its hardened protector. The new location of the nucleus pulposus causes it to rub up against the actual spinal cord and the nerves that surround it, causing the sufferer immense pain.
Spinal disc herniation is a condition that goes by several different names. Some call the condition a prolapsed disc, or a ruptured disc. People also use the term ‘slipped disc’, but the term is misleading, since the disc is so tightly stuck between the two vertebrae that it could never actually slip. The condition can occur in any disc that is part of the central nervous system. Most often, it tends to strike within the cervical discs or the lumbar discs. Most victims to spinal disc herniation are in their thirties or forties, and most often, their conditions are caused by stress to the spine. Heavy lifting, and repetitive movements such as twisting the back can lead to the development of a herniated disc.
When it comes to symptoms, some people don’t experience any. The pain experienced tends to vary according to the location of the herniated disc, as well as the tissues that are involved. If one does experience symptoms, they are likely to include pain, numbness, or tingling, as well as muscle weakness. Some cases of herniated discs may result in paralysis. To that end, it’s important to go to a doctor if you think you may have a herniated disc.
Doctors can use several methods to determine whether or not you have, in fact, a herniated disc. X-rays and computed tomography scans are often used to determine what damage has been done to the spinal cord. Magnetic resonance imaging is also used, as well as a type of spinal x-ray known as a myelogram.
When it comes to treating a case of a herniated disc, there are several things that you can do. While minor cases of herniated discs may heal themselves after a period of around six weeks, there are many things that you can do to help your body along the way. Most doctors recommend that you take it easy, getting lots of rest and keeping motion to a minimum. Physical therapy may be recommended, as well as massage therapy. Anti-inflammatory drugs are also of merit when it comes to helping someone with a herniated disc. Oral steroids can also be of benefit, as well as cortisone injections. In cases in which the pain is not subsiding, surgery may be necessary in order to correct the disc’s positioning. There are several different surgical methods employed that work towards the goal of freeing the back’s nerves from being compressed, and coincidentally causing the patient to feel much relief.