Herniated discs affect thousands of Americans each day. The pain can be excruciating and greatly impair your ability to work and perform day to day activities. Most herniated discs occur in either the neck or the lower back. They occur when a spinal disc shifts out of position or ruptures and puts pressure on nearby nerves.
Freedom Health Centers specializes in treating many kinds of back and neck pain. Our staff will help relieve the pain caused by your herniated discs. Using non-invasive treatment techniques we can help relieve your pain without the risk of surgery.
Herniated Discs and Their Causes
Spinal discs provide cushion between your vertebrae. They absorb shock from impacts and protect your vertebrae from rubbing against each other. They also give our backs the ability to twist and bend. Each disc is like a gel-filled pad. There is a strong outer layer and the center is soft. They are connected to the vertebrae with fibers on the outside of the discs.
When the outer layer weakens it can tear or rupture. The fluid inside the disc leaks into your spinal canal. This causes compression on nerves and your spinal cord. The fluid also irritates the nerves and causes further inflammation.
Causes of Herniated Discs
Often times, herniated discs are caused by spinal trauma. However, they are also commonly caused by aging and overuse. Over time our spinal discs gradually lose fluid and dry out. When this happens they become brittle and are injured more easily. As they lose their strength and flexibility repetitive movements are more likely to cause problems. Other movements, such as lifting heavy objects incorrectly, can also damage these already weakened discs.
Obesity is another common cause of herniated discs. Our bodies aren’t designed to carry excess weight. People who are significantly overweight are more likely to suffer from back injuries. This vulnerability is primarily due to the excess weight that the spine is already supporting.
Herniated Discs and Their Symptoms
Herniated discs can cause a wide variety of pain. Some people may feel no pain while others may be in excruciating pain. This is dependent upon both the extent of the injury and the location of the herniated disc. Most individuals experience pain on one side of their body due to the nature of compressed nerves.
In some cases the pain radiates throughout an area of your body. For example, if the sciatic nerve is compressed due to a herniated disc then you may feel radiating pain in your lower body. The pain of a herniated disc also can be accompanied by burning, tingling, or numbness. Some people also experience muscle spasms and muscle weakness. Rarely a herniated disc may cause a loss of bowel or bladder control. If this is the case then you need to seek emergency medical attention right away.
Diagnosing, Treating, and Preventing Herniated Discs
If you find yourself experiencing herniated disc symptoms then you’ll want to consult with a doctor or chiropractor. If a herniated disc is left untreated then you may be left with permanent nerve damage. A medical history and physical exam are your first steps to getting a diagnosis. You will also undergo a variety of diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions.
A herniated disc may heal on its own. This process is called resorption. Resorption involves the disc fragments being absorbed by your body. However, this is a long, drawn out process and you may continue to experience significant pain. This is why it’s important to seek treatment. A chiropractor can help alleviate symptoms through spinal manipulation.
Spinal manipulation is a non-invasive way to relieve pressure on nerves in the spine. This treatment method is preferred by many patients because it doesn’t carry the risk associated with surgery. Spinal manipulation is also commonly combined with physical therapy. This helps you strengthen weak muscles in order to help prevent another herniated disc.
Preventing Herniated Discs
You can also take precautions on your own to reduce your risk. Eat a balanced diet and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These lifestyle changes can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the strain on your spine. Exercise also helps your back and core muscles stay strong. These muscles are responsible for supporting your body.
It’s also important to practice good posture. Slouching as well as improper lifting during exercise and work activities can contribute to weak back muscles. Be conscious of your posture throughout the day. Be especially mindful of your posture when you are doing the same activity for a long period of time. For example, while you’re at work you will want to have good posture. Standing or sitting for long periods of time with poor posture can really stress your back and neck.