A herniated disc, also called bulging, protruding or ruptured disc is one of the conditions that cause pain to any part of the spine, but it is most common in the lower back and can also occur in the neck. Discs are part of the spine, described as round and flat, with a tough outer layer and covered with a jelly-like material. Each disc is located between vertebrae and functions as a shock absorber for the spinal bones, especially when you run or walk.
A Disc that is ruptured is usually displaced and, since there is only limited space in the spinal canal, it presses on the spinal nerves, which causes chronic to severe pain in the lower back or in any area of the spine. Most herniated disc cases don’t require surgery and can be resolved within a few months with proper treatment.
Aventura pain management has listed the vital information you need to know about a herniated disc such as causes, symptoms, risk factors, treatment, and prevention tips.
Causes of a herniated disc
A herniated disc is often a result of natural, aging-related wear and tear on the spine. The process is called disk degeneration. As a person ages, the spinal disc loses some of its water content, making it less flexible and more susceptible to ruptures and tears, even with a minor twist or strain.
Other causes are a traumatic fall or extensive use of your back muscles, particularly when lifting heavy objects. Therefore, it is essential to make use of your legs when lifting heavy objects.
Herniated disc symptoms
One of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc is lower back pain, which may last for several days. Other common signs and symptoms include:
- Arm or leg pain (sciatica). A herniated disc that is located in the lower back is often associated with intense pain, which can start from the buttocks, thighs, calves, or even some parts of the foot. Herniated disc located in the neck area comes with intense pain in the shoulder and arm. There would be sharp, shooting pain when you sneeze, cough or move to a certain position.
- Numbness or tingling. These types of sensations are often felt in the specific part of the spine where the affected nerve is located.
- Weakness. Affected nerves can cause weakness in the leg or foot, which may result in an inability to lift or hold objects, or even stumbling.
Risk factors of herniated disc
According to research herniated disc can occur at any age, but it shows that this type of condition mostly occurs in men between ages 20 and 50 years old.
Factors that may increase your risk of a herniated disc include:
- Weight. Being overweight puts more pressure in your lower back.
- Occupation. A person who has a physically demanding job including activities such as repetitive lifting, pushing, bending or twisting has a greater risk of developing back problems.
- Genetics. A person may inherit a predisposition to developing a herniated disc.
- Improper lifting technique. When lifting heavy objects it is important to always apply force from the legs, not from the back. Improper technique when lifting objects may lead to a herniated disc.
- Frequent driving. Driving requires you to be seated for a long period of time and vibrations from the car engine can damage the disc and some spinal structure.
- Sedentary lifestyle. It is important to engage in regular exercise to maintain a healthy lifestyle and to prevent medical conditions such as a herniated disc.
- Smoking. Smoking causes a grinding down of the tissue due to the fact that it decreases the oxygen supply to the disc.
Herniated disc treatment
The treatment for herniated disc is mostly non-surgical and focuses on eliminating pain. Treatments may include:
- Rest. Your doctor may advise you to have bed rest for 2 days or less. The resting period will help relieve back and leg pain.
- Epidural steroid injections. This procedure is the process of injecting a cortisone-like substance to the affected area through an x-ray guide. The procedure provides pain relief by reducing inflammation.
Some other therapy, such as ice and heat therapy, muscle stimulation or physical therapy may also be recommended by your doctor.
Aventura pain management has several pain management procedures that could help you eliminate the pain that is associated with herniated disc. Our doctor can design a treatment plan that would best work for you.
There are some ways that surely help prevent a herniated disc from occurring:
- Maintain your optimal weight
- Engage with routine exercises that provide spine stability such as crunches and other abdominal exercises.
- Lift heavy objects in a proper way - put force on your legs instead of your back
- Maintain good posture when sitting and standing. Doing so reduces the pressure on your spine and disc.
- Quit smoking
Our pain management clinic in Aventura offers patients more options than a primary care doctor when it comes to comprehensive and interventional pain management. Our pain management doctor performs procedures (such as nerve blocks, spinal injections, and other interventional techniques).
Do you have questions or would you like more information about pain management? Please don’t hesitate to contact us.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health