Could You Have a Herniated Disc?
Disc herniation is usually caused by a gradual, aging-related wear and tear called disc degeneration. Also, spinal disc’s tissues lose some amount of water content with aging. Therefore, they become less flexible and more predisposed to tearing or rupturing.
Factors that increase the risk of disk herniation may include:
Excess body weight that can cause extra pressure on the discs.
Physically demanding jobs. Repetitive lifting, pushing, bending sideways and twisting may increase the risk of a herniated disc.
Predisposition to developing a herniated disk can be inherited.
The most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:
Arm or leg pain – If the herniated disc occurs in the lower back, you will typically feel the intense pain in buttocks, thigh, and calf. The foot also can be involved. If the herniated disc is in the neck, the pain will typically be most intense in the shoulder and arm.
Numbness or tingling – Patients with a herniated disc often feel numbness or tingling in the body region served by the affected nerves.
Weakness – Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken.
A small number of people end up needing surgery to treat a herniated disc. However, most patients do well with simpler treatments, such as:
Drugs originally designed to control seizures also may be helpful in the treatment of the radiating nerve pain associated with a herniated disc.
Cortisone injections. Inflammation-suppressing corticosteroids may be given by injection directly into the area around the spinal nerves.
Medicines to relax the muscles (called muscle relaxants).
Injections of medicines that numb the back or reduce swelling.
Physical therapy to teach you special exercises and stretches.
In some cases, people with herniated discs need surgery. Your physician can suggest this when conservative treatments fail to reduce pain after six weeks. Moreover, surgery is indicated for patients who continue to experience:
Numbness or weakness
Difficulty standing or walking
Loss of bladder or bowel control
In most cases, surgeons can remove just the protruding portion of the disc. However, in some cases, the entire disc must be removed and after that, the vertebrae may need to be fused together with metal hardware.