Back pain can be debilitating. Going to work, running errands, and doing the things you love become difficult. Yet, the back has so many articulations, muscles and nerves that when you experience pain, it can be hard to figure out exactly what is causing it.
A common reason for back pain is a herniated disc. This condition can be troublesome since it can irritate nerves around the spine, exacerbating the pain.
What are Herniated Discs?
The anatomy of the human spine includes the spinal cord and 33 individual bones called vertebrae. In between each vertebra are soft discs that serve as cushions. If one of these discs slips out of its original position, or if any of them rupture, the condition is called a herniated disc.
Causes of Herniated Discs
Herniated discs are often the result of an injury. They can occur after a fall or car accident, or they can slide out of place while quickly turning or improperly lifting a heavy object.
Herniated Discs Signs & Symptoms
Some people don’t experience any symptoms from a herniated disc. However, those who do may notice the following:
- Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
- Back pain that radiates to the buttocks and legs
- If the pain is in the upper part of the back, it may radiate to shoulders and arms
- Muscle weakness
- Pain that worsens at night
- Pain when walking
Herniated Discs Diagnosis and Treatment
If your doctor believes you may have a herniated disc, he or she will perform a physical exam to evaluate muscle strength, and determine whether there is nerve damage. They’ll likely order imaging tests to confirm whether any of your discs have slipped or ruptured. This can be done with X-Ray, MRI, or CT Scan.
Treatment will depend on the severity of injury and whether the herniated discs are interfering with your day to day activities. Conservative treatments include physical therapy and stretching exercises, as well as over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication.
If conservative treatment fails to alleviate pain, a patient may require surgery to remove the disc. The surgeon would implant an artificial disc or fuse vertebrae together.
Lifestyle and Home Remedies for Herniated Discs
There are several things you can do to keep your back healthy:
- Exercise will help to strengthen your back muscles and provide good spine support.
- Maintaining a healthy weight will ease pressure from the spine and discs.
- Being mindful of your posture keeps your spine properly aligned. Make sure to keep your back straight even when you are in a sitting position.
As for home remedies, you can try the following:
- Walking on a flat surface between 10 and 20 minutes, several times a week.
- Apply a cold pack for about 15 minutes soon after injury. As the pain subsides in subsequent days, switch to heat therapy.
- Sleep on your back, with pillows under your knees.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Risk Factors for Herniated Discs
The most common risk factors for developing a herniated disc include:
- Physically demanding work
- Being overweight or obese
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Being female (it is more common in women than in men)
Complications of Herniated Discs
Left untreated, herniated discs can result in permanent nerve damage, causing chronic back pain. In the worst of cases, if the damage is in the lower back, it could affect the ability to control the bowels.
Preventing Herniated Discs
There are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of suffering a herniated disc.
When to See a Doctor for a Herniated Disc
If you’ve been experiencing chronic back pain that hasn’t improved with home remedies, or if your pain is radiating to your limbs, seek medical attention immediately. The doctors at The Orthopedic Clinic will ensure adequate treatment and rule out an underlying medical condition such as arthritis, or a torn muscle or ligament.
Request an Appointment at The Orthopedic Clinic Today
At The Orthopedic Clinic, we want you to live your life in full motion. If you’re experiencing back pain, let us help you. We’ll tailor a treatment plan that’s best for your lifestyle and get you back to doing the things you love.
Call us at (386) 255-4596 to schedule an appointment.