Everything You Need To Know About A Herniated Disc & Herniated Disc Treatment
If you're suffereing from a herniated disc or are looking for herniated disc treatment, you're in the right place. Below you'll learn what exactly a herniated disc is, the causese of one, the sign and symptoms, and, finally, the treatment for a hernated disc.
The bones or vertebrae that form the spine in the back are cushioned by small discs. These small discs are usually round and flat, comprising of a tough, outer layer (annulus) that borders a jelly like material called the nucleus. The discs act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones and are located between each of the vertebrae in the spinal column.
What Is A Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc (also known as a bulged, slipped or ruptured) is a fragment of the disc nucleus that is pushed out of the annulus, into the spinal canal through a rupture in the annulus. The herniated discs usually are in an early stage of degeneration. The spinal canal has limited space, which is not enough for the spinal nerve and the displaced herniated disc fragment. Because of this displacement, the disc presses on spinal nerves, often producing pain, which might be very severe.
Herniated discs can happen to you in any part of the spine. However, they are more common in the lower back, but also occur in the neck. The area in which the pain is experienced depends on what part of the spine is affected.
Causes Of A Herniated Disc
A single excessive strain or injury might cause a herniated disc. However, the material of disc degenerates naturally as one grows older, and the ligaments that hold it in place begin to weaken. As this degeneration progresses, a relatively minor strain can cause a disc to rupture.
However, some people might be more vulnerable to disc problems and, as a result, might suffer herniated discs in various places along the spine. Research shows that a predisposition for herniated discs might exist in families, with other members affected.
Symptoms of Herniated Disc
Symptoms of Herniated Disc vary considerably depending on the position of herniated disc and size of the herniation. If the herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, patient might experience a low backache or no pain at all. But if it is pressing on a nerve, there might be pain, weakness or numbness in the area of the body to which the nerve travels. Usually, a herniated disc is preceded by an episode of low back pain or a long history of irregular episodes of low back pain.
- Lumbar Spine (lower back): Sciatica frequently occurs from a herniated disc in the lower back. Pressure on one or several nerves that account to the sciatic nerve can cause pain, burning and numbness that radiates from the buttock into the leg and sometimes into the foot. Usually one side (left or right) is affected. This pain is often described as a sharp or electric shock-like. It might be more severe while standing, walking or sitting. Along with leg pain, one might also experience low back pain.
- Cervical Spine (Neck):It is characterized by a dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades, pain that radiates down the arm to the hand or fingers or numbness in the shoulder or arm. The pain might increase with certain positions or movements of the neck.
Diagnosis Of A Herniated Disc
The diagnosis is made by a neurosurgeon depending upon the history, symptoms, physical examination and results of tests, including the following:
- X-ray- It shows the structure of the vertebrae and the outline of the joints. X-rays of the spine are taken in order to search for other potential causes of pain, i.e. tumors, infections, fractures, etc.
- CT Scan- Computed Tomography Scan, creating a diagnostic image after a computer reads X-rays; can show the shape and size of the spinal canal, its contents, and the structures around it.
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)- It is a diagnostic test that produces 3-D images of body structures with the use of magnets and computer technology. It shows the spinal cord, nerve roots and surrounding areas, along with enlargement, degeneration and tumors.
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Herniated Disc Treatment
Fortunately, majority of herniated discs do not require any surgery. However, a very small percentage of people with herniated discs might experience severe low back pain, which considerably affects your daily routine.
The initial part of herniated disc treatment is usually conservative and non-surgical. Doctor might prescribe bed rest and advise the patient to maintain a low, painless activity level for a few days to several weeks. This helps the spinal nerve inflammation to decrease. A herniated disc is frequently treated with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication if the pain is only mild to moderate. An epidural steroid injection may be performed using a spinal needle under X-ray guidance so as to direct the medication to the exact level of the disc herniation.
Doctor might recommend you physical therapy. However you don’t need a physician’s referral to visit a spine physical therapist. The therapist performs an in-depth evaluation, which, together with doctor’s diagnosis, will provide a treatment specifically designed for patients with herniated discs.Therapy might include pelvic traction, gentle massage, ice and heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation and stretching exercises. Physical therapy from a therapist who specializes in Spine is the best way to overcome a herniated disc without surgery or medication. An experienced physical therapist will perform treatments that reduce compression of the nerve allowing the disc to heal on its own without surgery or injections and actually allow the disc to go back into place.
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About Author: Dr. Scott Gray
Dr. Scott Gray is an internationally recognized and expert physical therapist specializing in sport, athletic, and back and neck injuries. He is the inventor of a revolutionary form of treatment called the GRAY METHOD. This type of treatment unlike others, addresses the CAUSE rather than just your SYMPTOMS with a full body approach. For more information on how to ease or overcome your injury, go to www.backinmotionsspt.com.