A herniated disc, also known as a bulged, ruptured or slipped disc refers to a fragment of the disc nucleus (its jelly-like center) that is pushed out of the annulus (the rubbery exterior) into the spinal cord. This is the result of a tear or a rupture in the annulus. The discs are located between each vertebra in the spinal column, and act as shock absorbers for the spinal bones. Discs that become herniated are typically in an early stage of degeneration. Research shows that herniated discs generally affect one side of the body, but they can still cause a lot of pain since the spinal canal, which has limited space, is unable to accommodate the spinal nerves and the displaced herniated disc fragment. Depending on the part of the spine affected, the degree of pain can vary.
A lot of times, people have no symptoms from a herniated disc, and those who do, tend to improve over time. Symptoms usually depend on the location of the disc, and whether it is pressing on a particular nerve. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the spine, but are most common in the lower back, that is the lumbar spine, and the neck, that is the cervical spine.
Here are the symptoms for a herniated lumbar disc:
- Sciatic nerve pain, that is sharp pain in just one side of your buttocks, going into your legs, and often the foot
- Back pain
- Muscle weakness
- Tingling or numbness in the legs or feet
The symptoms for a herniated cervical disk include:
- Pain between or near the shoulder blades
- Neck pain, specifically in the back and the sides of the neck
- Pain that increases when you bend or turn your neck
- Tingling or numbness in your arms
- Pain traveling to your shoulders, arms, hand and fingers
If you encounter any of these symptoms, visit the Best Orthopedic doctor in karachi immediately for best possible treatment.
Research shows that every single year, about 2% of people get a herniated disk. The condition is twice as prevalent in men than women. Other risk factors for herniated disc include:
- Lifting heavy objects
- Being overweight
- Repeatedly sitting in the same position for a long time
- Doing work that requires repetitive bending and twisting motions
- Being sedentary
- Genetics, as some people can inherit a predisposition to getting a herniated disc
Disks have a nucleus that consists of a soft, gel-like center. They are surrounded by a firm outer layer called an annulus. With time, the outer layer can grow weary and weak, and can eventually crack. When the jelly in the center pushes through the cracks, it is able to press on the spinal nerves nearby, leading to a herniated disk. Here are some common causes for this condition:
This is one of the most common causes of a herniated disc. As you age, your discs can become less flexible and more prone to rupturing. They can wear and tear, which leads to their degeneration. Research shows that people between ages 30-50 are more likely to get a herniated disc.
Being in one position for long periods of time can lead to a herniated disc. An example of this would be driving constantly. Being seated for a long time along with the vibration from the engine can put pressure on the spine.
Oftentimes, using the back muscles instead of the leg and thigh muscles when engaging in activities like lifting heavy objects can lead to a sudden strain, causing a herniated disk. Additionally, twisting and turning, pushing and bending constantly can also lead to this problem.
Extra body weight can cause stress on the disks in the lower back. If you are obese and have a throbbing pain in your back log on to oladoc.com and consult an orthopaedic before it’s too late.
There are a number of treatment options for herniated discs. Non-surgical treatments can include prescription medications such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDS). Doctors can also use epidural steroids to treat the problem. Another treatment option is physical therapy which can include pelvic traction, ice and heat therapy, gentle massages, ultrasound, stretching exercises and electrical muscle stimulation. You might also be given muscle relaxants and painkillers to aid the process. In the worst cases, doctors can recommend surgery.