Not all cases of herniated disc are the same, so herniated disc treatment options vary depending on the situation. One of the main factors to consider when producing a treatment plan for a herniated disc is the initial cause of the problem.
What is a Herniated Disc?
A bulging, slipped, prolapsed, or herniated disc are all terms used to describe the loss of integrity and structure of one of the discs in your spine. These discs are found in between each of the vertebrae along the spine and are there to absorb impact and cushion your spine.
The discs themselves have a tough exterior with a gel-like substance inside to allow for maneuverability. A herniated or slipped disc happens when the exterior layer of the disc splits and allows the gel to bulge out.
Not only does this decrease the cushioning between your vertebrae, but the gel can put pressure on the nerve roots of the spine and cause pain.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Herniated discs can occur anywhere along the length of your spine, but they are more commonly found in the lower back region (lumbar spine). Here are some of the typical herniated disc symptoms:
- Lower right back pain or lower left back pain (usually the pain is one-sided)
- Numbness or tingling in your limbs
- Burning sensations around your lower back muscles and affected area
- Unexplained weakness in your muscles
- Trouble straightening or bending your back
These symptoms can occur along the entire length of your spine, which includes your neck.
It is possible to have a herniated disc without experiencing any symptoms at all. This type of herniation happens when the bulge of the disc is minor and does not irritate any of the nerves or surrounding tissue.
Physical examination and scans such as MRIs are the standard methods for diagnosing a herniated or bulging disc.
Causes of Herniated Discs
The discs in the spine can become herniated in several ways, so it is essential to know the potential causes to prevent any issues. The most common causes of herniated discs are:
1. Age – Over the years, the discs in your spine can deteriorate as a result of lifelong wear and tear. When this happens, the outer layer loses some of its’ water content, becomes more brittle, and ruptures.
2. Injury – Acute injuries to the spinal discs tend to be caused by lifting heavy or awkward shaped objects with improper technique. Doing so can put high amounts of pressure on the discs and cause them to split.
3. Poor posture – bad posture puts your spine out of its natural alignment, which is where it is strongest. Living with poor posture means you are continuously placing an uneven strain on your spine and the discs.
4. Being overweight – Carrying too much bodyweight puts added load and pressure on the entire body, including your spinal discs and back as a whole. Being obese can also reduce the effectiveness of treatments.
5. A sedentary lifestyle – Inactivity leads to weakness in the muscles and tissue that are supposed to support your spine. If these muscles are weak, the added strain can be placed on the discs.
Herniated Disc Treatment
In some cases, the pain caused by a herniated disc will ease or even disappear over time. This disappearance can happen if the disc shrinks and the bulging portion stops irritating the nerves. In some cases, the brain can also “switch off” the pain receptors at the location where a disc has been damaged, which stops the pain but does not cure the problem itself.
There are surgical options available as a last resort for cases where more conservative treatment options haven’t worked, and the symptoms are affecting day to day tasks. Fortunately, most people can recover through a combination of rest, and some prescribed herniated disc stretches.
If you are experiencing any lower back pain and believe you may have a herniated disc, contact Michigan Chiropractor Specialists to schedule an appointment. We can help you diagnose the causes of the problem and then design a treatment plan to tackle the symptoms and the root cause.