The spine is made up of a series of vertebrae that are separated by discs. These discs are bony on the outside with softer tissue in the center. They serve to cushion the vertebrae as the vertebrae shift when we move. If the softer tissue in the discs ruptures, the disc is said to be herniated.
Ruptures can occur as the result of injuries, strain, bone deterioration or aging. The discs have to absorb a lot of pressure over our lifetimes, and this can result in damage. People with mild damage may not feel any pain, and can be totally unaware of the problem. Most people will experience pain. In the most severe cases, it can be very debilitating.
Herniated discs can occur anywhere along the spinal column, but the most common location is between the fourth and fifth vertebrae in the lower back region. Depending on the level of damage, the damaged disc can put pressure on the nerves in the spine. That can cause severe pain.
The symptoms depend on the extent and location of the damage. If the disc makes contact with the spinal nerves, people often feel sharp, shooting pains that normally occur on just one side of the body. This condition is referred to as sciatica. When the disc between the fourth and fifth vertebrae is damaged, the shooting pain often goes down through the buttock and the leg. There may also be a feeling of numbness, and some people experience a tingling sensation. When the damaged disc is higher up the spine, a person may have shooting pains down the arm, or experience stiffness or spasms in the neck.
There are some physical tests which doctors can carry out to determine if disc herniation is present. Patients may also be referred for scans or x-rays.
The treatment recommended will depend on several factors, and can encompass a broad range of therapies. Physical or chiropractic therapy can help. When pain is present, doctors may prescribe pain relief and anti-inflammatory medications. If the pain is severe, patients may be given cortisone injections. If the symptoms persist, it may be necessary to consider surgical intervention.
As with many types of disorder, the longer herniated discs remain untreated, the worse the prognosis for a successful outcome. If you live in Newark, DE, and you suffer form symptoms that may indicate problems, the Advance Back and Neck Pain Center can provide herniated disc treatment. Contact them to arrange a consultation.