Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc – Refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions found between the individual bones that make up your spine. The spinal disc is similar to a soft doughnut covered with a tough exterior. When the “jelly-like” soft interior slips out through a crack in the disc wall, it becomes a herniated disc. The escaped “jelly” is thought to release chemicals that irritate the nerves in the surrounding area causing significant pain.

Causes of a Herniated Disc

  • Very frequently, a herniated disc can be caused by simple wear and tear over time. The older you get your spinal discs lose some of their water content making the disc less supple and more liable to split.
  • An injury such as a car accident, lifting an object incorrectly or twisting the wrong way can cause a herniated disc. The sudden jerking movement can put too much pressure on the disc, causing it to herniate.
  • A combination of disc degeneration and injury.
  • The disc can become so weak that what might not seem like a traumatic event can cause a herniated disc. An example of this would be sneezing.

Stages of Herniated Discs

  1. Degeneration – As a person ages, the disc loses elasticity and can become brittle
  2. Bulging Disc Herniation – Over time, small tears form in the outer ring of an intervertebral disc which allows the softer, gel-like interior to bulge out.
  3. Extrusion – Occurs when part of the nucleus breaks through the fibrous outer layer, but still remains within the disc
  4. Sequestration – Disc separation occurs when the leaking gel-like material breaks through the outer layer and is loose within the spinal cord

Herniated Disc Risk Factors

  • Long periods of sitting
  • Lifting or pulling heavy objects
  • Bending or twisting of back
  • Heavy lifting
  • Lots of driving
  • Not exercising and then starting a very intense regiment.
  • Smoking – the toxins in the smoke can keep spinal discs from absorbing all the nutrients that they need from the blood
  • Overweight – the extra weight in stomach area can put too much strain on back

Herniated Disc Signs and Symptoms – Signs and symptoms can depend on the location of the herniated disc, however, these are some of the common symptoms

  • Shoulder pain
  • Weakness, pain, numbing or tingling in biceps
  • Weakness in grip numbers
  • Weakness in triceps
  • Tingling in extension muscles of the fingers
  • Back pain
  • Weakness in leg or foot
  • Loss of bladder control ( this could also be a sign of a much more serious condition known as Equina Syndrome)

Treatment for Herniated Disc

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