What is a herniated disc?
If you have been diagnosed with a herniated disc, you might be wondering what this means.
A herniated or slipped disc
A herniated disc is often called a slipped disc. A disc is actually a cushion between the vertebrae of your spine. Your discs have a soft centre with a tougher exterior. A herniated disc happens when the soft material pushes itself out from a tear in the exterior bones. When this happens, it can be painful because nearby nerves can become irritated, and this can cause numbness, pain or weakness in your back, neck or one of your limbs.
Not everyone who has a herniated disc will experience symptoms, but some do.
Symptoms associated with a herniated disc
Some of the common symptoms associated with a herniated disc are the following:
- A protruding disc herniation can obstruct spinal nerves or even the spinal canal. When this happens, you can experience back or neck pain, numbness or weakness that is triggered when specific spinal nerve roots become pinched as the material of the disc puts pressure on them.
- Leg pain. When the herniated disc is in your lumbar spine (lower back), as it so often is, you may experience pain in your hips, thighs, or even calves, especially if the sciatic nerve has been affected. Sometimes the pain can extend to the foot as well.
- Arm pain If the slipped disc is in your neck, you will most probably have a painful arm and shoulder. The pain you have, if it is in your arm /and or shoulder, could shoot into a limb if you cough. This can also happen if you sneeze or inadvertently move your spine in a different position.
- Tingling sensations. This is caused by the nerves that are affected when you have a disc problem.
- Muscle weakness. Again, the nerves are affected, and they tend to weaken, as do the muscles they serve. You may stumble or drop things, depending on the severity of your problem.
As previously mentioned, it’s possible to have a disc problem without you being aware of it.
Some possible causes
- Worn discs may be the result of the ageing process. Spinal discs often lose some water as you age. They become less flexible and so they might tear or become sprained.
- You should take care when lifting heavy objects because you have used your back muscles to lift rather than your thigh and leg muscles.
- A blow to the back, or a heavy fall, can sometimes lead to a herniated disc, although these causes and not very common.
How is a slipped disc diagnosed and treated?
Getting a diagnosis for disc herniation starts with a specialist conducting a physical examination of your spine, especially within the painful region, and also taking a history.
Because not everyone who suffers from a disc herniation experiences symptoms, or the symptoms that are present overlap with those of other spinal problems, additional (imaging) tests such as a CT scan may be carried out to check for the root of the problem.
Once you have received your diagnosis and it is confirmed that you are suffering from a disc herniation, you will be offered a range of treatment options that best suit your needs. In many cases, surgical treatments are not necessary to fix a slipped disc, as it may heal on its own with proper care.
Pain medication is not advised in this case, as it does not help the healing process of the disc and can cause several side effects. Muscle relaxers may be recommended in some instances where the muscles are tense or if spasms occur.
Physical therapy and other mobilisation exercises may be some of the best approaches that can facilitate a natural healing of a disc slippage.
To make your recovery even smoother, and to aid in preventing this problem from recurring, you may want to use the Backrack Spinal Decompression device.
Relieve Herniated Disc Pain At Home
How to prevent disc problems
- Exercise. Exercising and so strengthening you lower back muscles can help you to avoid disc problems.
- Posture is important. Having good posture means that the pressure on your spine and discs decreases. Your back should be straight when you are sitting.
- Lifting heavy objects carefully. When you lift something heavy, use your leg muscles, not those of your back.
- Watch your weight. Try to maintain or get to a healthy weight if necessary. Any excess weight that you carry on your body will have the adverse effect of placing increased strain on your spine, increasing your chances to develop a disk herniation.
Please note: If your pain persists, doesn’t improve, or even worsens, please seek medical advice from a qualified healthcare professional.