Many people, both patients and health professionals alike, find it hard to understand and explain what a herniated disc really means. One reason is that doctors use different terms to describe such a condition. Some call herniated discs as slipped discs, ruptured discs, or prolapsed discs. Some patient’s pain does not correlate with their condition, while others don’t feel any symptom or pain. It is due to these complexities that you should never make your own diagnosis and treatment.
But what is a herniated disc anyway? If you suspect that you have a herniated disc, the following are the things that you should learn about:
Causes of a herniated disc
Each bone in your spinal column is cushioned by discs. The discs have two parts. The outer portion is a tough ring with a soft gelatinous inner part. These discs help protect your spine by absorbing the shocks brought about by physical activity. If the outer ring of your disc tears or becomes weak, the inner portion of the disc slips. Some of the causes of herniated discs are trauma, gradual wear of the discs due to aging, or heavy lifting.
Possible signs and symptoms of herniated discs
People with slipped discs can feel pain in any part of their spine. But lower back pain is more common. People with herniated discs often experience unexplained muscle weakness. Some experience pain and numbness, but only on one side of their body. Others have an aching, tingling, or burning sensation in the area where their disc slipped. Some may experience an ache that worsens when doing certain movements such as extending their arms and legs, when walking or after sitting or standing.
Diagnosing a herniated disc
Your doctor will start by asking you a series of questions. This includes where and when you feel pain and discomfort, your symptoms, and your medical history. A physical exam is needed to check where the source of pain and discomfort is. They may also ask you to undergo different tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans, or discogram.
Treating a herniated disc
How your doctor will treat a herniated disc will depend on your level of discomfort. Some will recommend certain exercises to strengthen your back. Some will give you over-the-counter pain relievers. Your doctor may require ozone treatment for your herniated disc, while others may require surgery.
Possible complications of an untreated slipped disc
If you leave a severe slipped disc untreated, you may experience permanent nerve damage. There are cases when you may lose bladder or bowel control if your condition cuts off nerve impulses responsible for your bladder and rectum. In other very rare cases, you may even lose sensation in your limbs. This is why it pays to get the proper medical attention to avoid such complications.
Preventing a slipped disc
It can be hard to prevent such a condition as one of its possible causes includes a weaker disc as we age. The good news is that there are things you can do to reduce your risks of developing a slipped disc. One is to maintain a healthy weight so as not to add additional and unnecessary pressure on your spine. There are safe exercises that you can do to strengthen your muscles. Keep in mind safe lifting techniques and regular stretch and walk after sitting for an extended time.
A herniated disc can stop you from comfortably doing your daily life activities. Never self-diagnose or do self-treatment. You can use this article as your guide, but keep in mind that the best way to stop your suffering is by seeking the advice of a professional.