Pain in the spine is the most common symptom of a herniated disc. But is herniated disc just limited to this? Are there more facts you need to learn about herniated disc? The information below will clarify many of your questions about a herniated disc and give you the most effective management of a herniated disc.
What Is a Herniated Disc?
Herniated disc is a condition that affects the cushions in between the vertebrae that makes up your spine.The cushions are called the spinal disc. A spinal disc has two main parts. It has a fibrous exterior (annulus fibrosis) made of a several layers and a soft interior (nucleus pulposus) made of a gel-like material. Each disc functions to cushion the spine, absorb shock, and maintain spacing between the vertebrae. If there is a crack in the exterior of the disc, the jelly substance inside the spinal disc seeps out – which thereby arises to a condition called herniated disc. Imagine stepping on a jelly doughnut- this is what a herniated disc looks like.This causes irritation in the nearby nerves which results in pain, numbness and weakness in the adjacent body parts.
What Are The Symptoms Of a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc can be asymptomatic (shows no symptoms). Only a few people report signs and symptoms of this condition. Below are the major signs and symptoms of a herniated disc that you need to be aware of:
- Pain localized to the spine
Many times a herniated disc can result in pain in the spine without radiation into the arm or leg. Usually if you are not responding to conservative care and MRI will be performed to see if there is underlying pathology such as a herniated or bulging disc.
- Pain in the arm or leg
The location of the pain depends on the location of the herniated disc. If herniation occurs in the neck, pain can be felt in the shoulders and arms. On the other hand, herniation in the lower back results to pain in the buttocks, thighs and legs. This pain will usually worsen sitting, movement especially bending or twisting, coughing or sneezing.
- Tingling or numbness in the legs
Seeping out of the jellylike of the disc causes irritation of the nerves around it. As a result, tingling sensation around the affected area can be felt.
- Weakness of muscles
If there is actual compression of the nerve root the muscles innervated by the affected nerves also get affected. This results to weakness or numbness of such muscles which may cause you to lose balance or your grip.
What Are The Warning Signs That Would Call For Immediate Medical Attention?
Be sure to seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of bowel or bladder control
- Pain that travels to the extremities
- Progressive muscle weakness
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
It is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of a disk herniation because it usually occurs over time. There is some indication that it is hereditary which means it is passed from parent to offspring. Usually it is the result of the aging process and the constant wear and tear over the years. It can also be as a result of muscle weakness in the deep muscles of the spine caused by repetitive trauma although this muscle weakness may also be a consequence of the herniated disc. A healthy spinal disc can be injured by a specific incident, but this is very rare and would require a significant trauma such as a fall from a distance landing on your buttocks. An injury such as this would more likely result in a compression fracture to one of the vertebra, rather than a herniated disc. A herniated disc is usually asymptomatic and becomes actively inflamed by movements such as bending twisting or lifting over your head. This can be a result of something as simple as bending over to tie your shoe or pick up the soap in the shower, or coughing or sneezing.
How Is It Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of herniated disc involves a combination of the following:
- Careful physical examination
- Electromyography (EMG)
Treatment for Herniated Disc
There are several treatment options for herniated discs. At the Center for Total Back Care, the most effective approach is non-surgical decompression called the VAX-D. VAX-D, otherwise known as Vertebral Axial Decompression, has really two effects on the disc: 1) It increases nutrition to the disc through a process called imbibition (diffusion of nutrients from the vertebra above and below the disc through normal spinal movement) and; 2) By causing a negative pressure in the disc, a vacuum is formed in the disc causing the disc material to resorb. When you have a herniated disc the muscles around the disc become weak. This has a negative effect on the ability to transport nutrients into the disc through your normal activities of daily living or demands of employment by the process of imbibition as described above. Strengthening of the deep spinal muscles is a critical component of treatment for a herniated disc. This must be done to not only stabilize the spine but also to restore the normal imbibition process. This is most effectively performed by utilizing the MedX Medical Spinal Testing and Rehabilitation equipment offered at this clinic. See videos below showing the Med-x and VAX-D treatments.
The Center for Total Back Care was the first clinic in the Valley to offer VAX-D treatment. We have been using it since 1998 and through extensive experience, gained over the years, have been able to develop evaluation and treatment protocols that help us identify which patients are candidates for VAX-D and which patients would respond to a specific rehabilitation program utilizing the MedX Medical Spinal Testing and Rehabilitation equipment.
If you are enduring the suffering associated with a herniated disc, have been told you need surgery, or are simply not happy with the treatment you are now receiving, it’s about time you give it the attention it deserves. Contact the Center for Total Back Care today so we can develop the most suitable treatment and rehabilitation program for you and get back to a pain-free life as soon as possible. If you are unsure as to what treatment would be best for your case, come talk to us. Call today and schedule a free consultation. There is no obligation! Call us at 480-633-8293!