Understanding Disc Herniation Causes and Treatments

Understanding Disc Herniation Causes and Treatments

Back pain is a common complaint as people age. All people have spinal discs, which act as shock absorbers. As we age, these discs dry out and become brittle. In these cases, the discs can be pushed out from their normal positions. This causes pain. Fortunately, there are a variety of different treatments for disc herniation. The course of treatment will depend on the person and his or her specific needs.

Herniated discs can lead to nerve problems, numbness, and weakness in the extremities. Herniations typically occur in the lower back. Although, some people do experience herniated discs in the upper back and neck. Typical symptoms include pain in the arms or legs, numbness or tingling due to compressed nerves, or weakness in the extremities. In some people, no symptoms are present.

Close-up View of Herniated Lumbar Vertebral Disc Model

There are many causes of herniated discs. In many people, old age, and general wear and tear are the primary causes. As people age, the discs lose water content, which makes them more prone to herniation. Using back muscles to lift heavy objects, or twisting and turning with weight can lead to herniated discs as well. People who are overweight or have a genetic predisposition are more prone to disc herniation. Also, those with physically demanding jobs are also more at risk.

While a herniated disc on its own does not present a significant risk, complications may arise. Left untreated, some people may experience symptoms worsening to the point they can no longer use the affected arm or leg. It can also lead to poor control of the bladder, or loss of feeling in the inner thighs.

There are treatments available for herniated discs. However, the best treatment is prevention. Building up the strong core and back muscles can help prevent disc herniation because it allows the spine to be more stabilized. Also, having good posture while sitting and lifting heavy objects is key to preventing herniated discs. Maintaining a healthy weight allows less pressure on the spine, which can also prevent a slipped disc.

Woman Experiencing Relief From Disc Herniation Pain

While some things, such as proper posture and exercise are within our control, others, such as genetics, are not. Even when taking all preventative measures, some people may still suffer from a herniated disc. Treating a herniated disc begins with a complete physical examination, and typically requires lots of trial and error. Conservative treatments are tried first. These types of treatments include physical therapy and stretching, ice and heat, NSAIDs, and epidural injections, to name a few. If conservative treatments provide no relief, and the patient is unable to function, surgical interventions may be considered. Surgery can include lumbar decompression or lumbar discectomy.

Herniated discs can be very painful, and are more likely to occur in old age. While some people are genetically prone to disc herniation, all people can take preventative measures to lessen the likelihood of it happening. Disc herniation is an unpleasant experience for most people. Fortunately, there are a variety of conservative treatments, including herniated disc treatment in Chicago to help individuals suffering from back pain.