Herniated disc, also known as slipped discs, are a common cause of concern among adults older than 30. Compared to women, men are twice more likely to suffer from slipped discs during their lifetime. More often than not, a slipped disc will cause pain in the lower back or neck.
Are you also suffering from pain along your lower back area? If yes, then it is always wise to consult an expert. Timely treatment will help you lead a comfortable and happy life.
What exactly is a Herniated Disc?
Ever wondered what does a slipped disc feels like and how it is caused?
Here’s everything you need to know about slipped discs:
Our spine has 33 small bones stacked on top of one another. Together, they form the spinal canal that houses and protects the spinal cord and nerves. Spinal bones are essential to our body’s motion. They act as the central support structure, controlling all our movement.
Our every movement, sitting, walking, bending, and more is generated through our spine. Naturally, spinal bones are susceptible to wear and tear. The spinal bones have natural shock absorbers known as discs. Spinal discs are round in diameter and flat on the top and bottom, and are attached securely to the vertebrae (spinal bones) above and below them.
A herniated or slipped disc’s outer ring becomes fragile or injured, causing the internal segment to protrude.
So, what exactly is it that slips? Let’s take a closer look at the spinal disc’s structure.
Each disc has two parts: an outside tire-like, tough segment composed of fibro-collagenous tissue called the annulus that withstands compressive forces and an interior gel-like, softer part composed of mucoproteins called the nucleus that evenly distributes pressure across the disc. This is what it looks like:
As we become older, the inner segment of the disc may rupture or explode through the outer ring. With age, our spinal discs degenerate and lose some of their water content. They grow less flexible and are more likely to rupture even with minor twisting or pressure. A slipped or herniated disc is the medical term commonly used for this condition.
Slipped discs are rarely the result of accidents or falls; rather, they are the result of years of wear and strain. You risk slipping discs if you move anything heavy by bending over and using your back and shoulder muscles.
A slipped disc is usually diagnosed based on a physical exam and your medical history. An MRI can be used to determine the exact position of the slipped disc as well as which nerves are involved.
Symptoms of a slipped disc
Slipped disc symptoms may feel like arm or leg discomfort, numbness, or weakness, while other patients experience no symptoms at all.
Symptoms vary depending on the patient, the location of the disc herniation, and how long it has been there. The majority of persons over 30 do have a herniation, however, only approximately 20% of them are symptomatic. Some common herniated disc symptoms include:
● Mild to extreme pain around the lower back and neck.
● Reduced reflexes
● Burning pain running down the leg
● Restricted motion especially while walking
● Muscle weakness or paralysis
Slipped disk in the back symptoms
A herniated disc in your lower back can also cause the following symptoms:
● Back pain.
● Numbness in the legs and/or feet.
● Muscle weakness.
Slipped disc in neck symptoms
Herniated disk symptoms in neck are:
● Pain between the shoulder or in the area of your shoulder blades.
● Pain in the arm and at times across fingers and hands.
● Numbness or burning sensation in arms.
● Frequent neck pain, especially in the side and back area
● When you bend or turn your head, your neck pain gets worse.
Who are at higher risk of Slipped Disc?
As with other medical conditions, our lifestyle choices have a significant impact on our spinal cord health, especially the spinal discs.
● People who are obese or overweight are at greater risk of rapturing their spinal disks.
● People involved in physical work, especially those lifting heavy loads, are at higher risk of back pain and consequently suffering from a slipped disc.
● People who have long sitting hours at work are most likely to suffer from herniated disk drug old age.
● People with a family history of disc problems are at higher risk of developing a herniated disk.
● People who smoke regularly are also at higher risk of slipped discs. Smoking reduces oxygen supply to the discs. The reduced oxygens weaken the disk and make them vulnerable to load or injury.
Causes for slipped discs
The two most common causes for a slipped or herniated disc are Natural degeneration and Trauma.
As you get older, your discs may become weaker. When this happens, the jelly-like nucleus substance spills into the spinal canal, putting pressure on the surrounding nerves.
Sudden trauma or accident can also lead to slipped discs. In other cases, injury from Poor lifting technique during exercise or Poor sleeping posture may also cause slipped discs in the lower back.
Other common causes include:
● Muscle weakness
● Sitting long hours – Supported, without support, slouching, etc
● Wrong-way to get up from the bed and chairs
● Wrong-way to lift heavy household items
How Are Herniated(Slipped) Discs Diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a thorough physical exam for herniated disc diagnosis. The doctor will take note of all your symptoms. Examine the muscle reflexes, sensation, and strength around the affected area. Your provider may also suggest tests such as:
Imaging tests help your doctor get to identify the source of slipped discs. The most common imaging scans include:
● MRI: High-accuracy imaging test for a suspected herniated disc is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
● X-rays: X-rays are used to rule out other potential reasons for back or neck pain.
● CT Scan: A computed tomography (CT) scan shows your spine’s bones.
● Myelogram: A myelogram is a CT scan that includes injecting dye into your spine under X-ray supervision. The dye can show where your herniated disc is located.
● Electromyogram (EMG): Tiny needles are inserted into muscles around the spinal cord to assess nerve function. An EMG is used to assess which nerves are affected by a herniated disc.
They’ll want to know when you first started experiencing symptoms and what activities make your discomfort worse. Together with this information and the image scans, the doctor will be better equipped to determine the cause of your pain or discomfort.
Slipped Disc Treatment
The pain from a slipped disc should go away on its own within a few weeks unless it is exceedingly severe. However, severe pain may make daily activity difficult. You may face discomfort in performing tasks that require the application of force. After a thorough assessment of your discomfort, your doctor will provide a comprehensive treatment plan.
Your doctor will recommend herniated disc exercises in addition to meds. Practice them, Stay patient, and stick to the treatment plan.
Your recovery could take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the amount of the disc injury.
Things to Keep in Mind
If you are wondering, how to fix a slipped disc on your own?
Most slipped disc pain subsides on its own within 3-4 weeks. Treating a slipped disk on your own may aggravate is never wise. In the worst case, you may do more harm to it. Talk to an expert physiotherapist before taking up any form of exercise or activity.
Herniated Disc Prevention
The most important investment in your life is your health. When it comes to taking care of your spinal discs, you can get all the information you want on the internet.
In the meantime, here are some key things to keep in mind to keep your spinal discs healthy forever.
1. Follow a healthy diet and quit smoking
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
3. Do low-impact exercises that will keep you fit and won’t kill your back or knees.
4. Avoid any exercises that put stress on the spinal column
However, there is no better way to cure a herniated disc than to hear from an expert. At Kayawell, we have brought expert health advice to your fingertips. All you have to do is fill out this form and instantly connect to the best health providers who specialize in the care of patients with spinal cord injuries (SCI).