What is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc refers to a softening of the spine’s bones, pressing down on the nerves that surround the backbone. Herniate (pronounced hernee’ate), is a contraction for the word herniate. This means to bulge out. This can also be called a “ruptured disc”.
Most herniated discs occur in your lumbar spine. This is the region of your backbone between your hips. Discs are the soft cushions between the bones of your spine. Your spine supports your entire body. The spine protects the nerves and spinal cord. Your spine has discs that allow you to move your vertebrae.
What causes a herniated spine?
The discs are soft, gel-like and have a thicker outer layer. It looks like a jelly doughnut. The outer layer may crack as it deteriorates. The disc can become herniated when the jelly substance inside pushes through cracks. The leaked material could cause injury to nearby spinal nerves.
Numerous factors can lead to a burst disc.
- Excessive body weight.
- Repetitive motions.
- Sudden strain caused by improper lifting and twisting
What are the signs and symptoms of a herniated disc
There are many symptoms that can be caused by herniated discs. They may appear differently depending on where they are located in your spine. Movement can worsen symptoms, but they get better with rest.
Back herniated/slipped disc
“Sciatic nerve discomfort” can result from a herniated disc in the lower back. Sharp pain radiates from your lower back to your feet, legs and sometimes your leg. You may also experience symptoms like:
- Pain in the back
- Tingling in your feet and legs
- Muscle weakness
Herniated cervical cervical disc (herniated Vertebral disc)
A herniated neck disc can lead to symptoms such as:
- There may be pain between or near the shoulder blades.
- The pain may radiate to your arm and shoulder, or even your hands and fingers.
- Neck pain, especially at the back or sides of the neck.
- It’s a type of pain that happens when you bend or twist your neck.
- You feel tingling or numb in your arms
How can my doctor tell whether I have a herniated disc?
After answering your questions, and performing an examination to determine if your disc is herniated, your doctor might order x-rays.
What can be done to ease the pain of a herniated spine?
Your doctor might prescribe medication to help with the pain. Two days of pain medication will make you more active. You will feel better faster if you are active. If you are experiencing severe pain, your doctor might suggest that you stay in bed for several days.
If your pain medication fails, your doctor could give you a shot at affecting the backbone. This could help stop your pain. Sometimes you may need multiple shots. Sometimes, a chiropractor or your family physician can help to relieve the pain.
Exercises can ease pain
Yes, exercise can be very beneficial. Stretching is the best way to start. Begin by stretching your back. Next, bend forward then move to the side. These exercises are easier if your back is stronger. This exercise will strengthen your stomach muscles as well as your back. This will lower pressure on your discs and reduce pain. Ask your doctor for back exercises. A physical therapist might be recommended by your doctor to help you learn about safe back exercises.
What about my posture?
A good posture is important for your back health. Standing straight, sitting straight, and raising your back straightens can all help. Bend your knees at the hips while lifting things. Straighten your spine. If you are carrying an object, make sure it is close to your body. If you stand for long periods of time, your one foot should be on a small stool. You should place one foot on a small stool, or box, if you plan to sit for a long time. Shoes with high heels are not recommended. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. These activities may put additional pressure on your discs. Picture 3 shows good posture whether you are standing, lifting, or sitting.
How do you deal with bulges or herniated discs on the disc?
Most patients will first need help diagnosing the root cause of their disc bulge/herniated disc. Repeated forward bending in the spine is a common symptom. Poor movement patterns, both postural and occupational, can cause this as well as exercise-related. Once you have been identified eliminate or minimize all forward-bending activities.
This is particularly important in the mornings when disc pressure rises in the spine during the first hour after waking up. You are at higher risk of disc bulge or disc slippage. In order to avoid aggravating a lumbar disc injury (lumbar disc herniation), it is important to exercise regularly in the morning. This could lead to severe discomfort.
Here are some tips for treating disc bulges
- Walking slowly and carefully can be beneficial. Moving can reduce pain signals, and help maintain proper function of the lumbar disc.
- Avoid forward-bending your lower back during the morning. Do not bend forward to get out of bed. Instead, you should move on your side.
- For acute herniated discs, ice is the best treatment. After that point, most people prefer heat.
- Avoid extreme stretching and exercises for pain relief, especially in an acute stage.
- Talk to a chiropractor who has experience treating disc injuries. Chiropractic adjustments can relieve pain and prevent further lumbar disc problems.
What are the chances for people with herniated discs?
The simple treatment of herniated disc pain is possible for as many as 90% of patients. In a matter of days you will feel better. You should consult your healthcare provider if you feel any worse. Some people may need surgery or spinal injections.
Are herniated discs going to get worse?
If left untreated, herniated discs can get worse. This is especially true when the herniated disc continues growing, such as if it was caused work-related. Chronic ruptured discs can lead to pain, loss of control, or sensational loss. You should consult your healthcare provider if symptoms persist for more than four to six months.