Posts From November, 2023

Questions and Answers About Herniated Discs

If you struggle with back pain, neck pain, or odd sensations in an arm or leg, you may need evaluation and treatment for a herniated disc in your spinal column. Herniated discs afflict an estimated two percent of the population in any given year. This condition can pinch nerves, impairing your body’s ability to function.

Fortunately, you can fight back against herniated disc issues once you understand something about why they occur, what trouble signs to look for, what treatment can do for you, and how to guard against recurrences. Check out these key questions and answers about herniated discs.

How and Why Do Discs Herniate?

Your spine consists of more than just a stack of connected vertebrae. Between almost all of these vertebrae sit cylindrical structures known as vertebral discs. Vertebral discs cushion the spine and help your body distribute weight evenly. They also help to maintain the right degree of space between vertebrae.

A vertebral disc features a gel-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. A tough lining called the annulus fibrosus contains the nucleus pulposus. However, stress or damage can weaken part of the annulus fibrosus until it protrudes outward, potentially squeezing nearby nerve tissue. Doctors call this problem a herniated disc.

While anyone can get a herniated disc, the issue occurs more often in older adults. Sometimes, acute back strain, a fall, or some other injury can cause a disc to herniate. Other risk factors include excess weight, smoking, too much sitting, and repetitive motion strain involving repeated stooping, bending, or twisting motions.

What Problems Can a Herniated Disc Cause?

If a herniated disc exerts enough pressure on nerves, it can create a host of unpleasant symptoms. These symptoms will affect only the part of the body where the herniation lies. For instance, a cervical herniated disc may cause intense neck pain, while a lumbar herniated disc may cause severe lower back pain.

Herniated discs commonly cause symptoms in an arm or leg as well. If your herniated disc presses against the spinal nerve roots in your neck, for example, you may experience tingling, pain, numbness, or weakness in your arm. A lumbar herniation pinching the sciatic nerve causes similar symptoms in your leg.

One particularly alarming effect of herniated lumbar discs involves the loss of bladder or bowel control, a problem called cauda equina. If you experience these symptoms, seek immediate diagnosis and treatment.

How Do Different Treatment Techniques Help Herniated Discs?

A skilled orthopedic specialist can confirm a herniated disc by evaluating your symptoms and using diagnostic imaging techniques. Once your specialist has determined the exact location and nature of the herniation, you may receive a multi-modal treatment plan customized to meet your specific needs.

Chiropractic care can often ease the symptoms of a herniated disc. Spinal manipulation can help restore vertebrae and vertebral discs to their optimal positions, taking pressure off of nearby nerves and giving the annulus fibrosus a chance to heal.

The weaker your neck and back muscles, the more stress your spine experiences. Your treatment plan may therefore include physical therapy exercises to help you build up these important muscle groups. Your physical therapist can also show you how to bend, twist, and generally use your spine more safely and correctly.

If your herniated disc involves severe swelling and nerve irritation, your orthopedic specialist may prescribe medications ranging from oral anti-inflammatory drugs to corticosteroid injections. In an especially severe or urgent case, you might need surgery to remove some or all of the affected disc.

How Can You Avoid Herniated Discs?

While nothing can completely eliminate the possibility of future herniated discs, you can take steps to reduce your risk Everyday preventative practices include smoking cessation, weight loss, regular exercise to keep your neck and back in good shape, and periodic chiropractic evaluations to check your posture and spinal alignment.

If you think you might need help with a troublesome herniated disc, come to Maximum Orthopedics. Our orthopedic team can diagnose your condition and prescribe a personalized mix of chiropractic care, physical therapy, and other treatment methods to ease your discomfort and restore your function. Contact our office today.

  • Posted on: Nov 15 2023
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