Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc

The Causes and Symptoms of a Herniation

A herniation may be caused by several factors, most commonly by the gradual degeneration of the cartilage over time. While this is quite a normal process, degeneration may leave the spine susceptible to injury due to the lack of padding between vertebrates. In younger individuals, improper lifting and poor abdominal strength tend to be underlying factors that will often result in a herniation under specific circumstances.

Although there are instances where symptoms may not be present, patients will most frequently complain of intense lower back pain that resides directly above the buttocks. Should a nerve become pinched, this pain may radiate down an arm or a leg. This pain will directly correlate to the location of the disc itself, with the discomfort felt commonly accompanied by a numbness, tingling or muscular weakness.

Primary symptoms of a herniation:
  • Lower back pain.
  • Pain radiating down an arm or leg.
  • Numbness.
  • Tingling and muscular weakness.

One of the problems that accompanies these aforementioned symptoms is that they are quite general in nature. For instance, a condition known as spinal stenosis (a narrowing of the column that contains the spinal cord) can mirror the same condition. Additionally, sciatic pain (severe pain that radiates down the arm or leg) may be caused by a pinched nerve or a strained muscle as opposed to a herniation. Proper treatment will first revolve around the proper diagnosis.

Herniated Disc Treatment

Assuming that a proper diagnosis is made, the most common form of initial treatment is conservative in nature; the patient will rest, avoid lifting or twisting motions and possibly take anti-inflammatory medications, resolving nine out of ten cases.

Several medications may be prescribed. Notwithstanding anti-inflammatory solutions, pain relievers, muscle relaxers and cortisone injections designed to reduce swelling can be beneficial in alleviating symptoms. These can be combined with physical therapy, used to increase blood flow to the region of injury and keep the muscles around the affected area loose.

In a small number of cases, a slipped disc may require surgery. This will only take place if a portion of the disc lodges in the spinal canal or daily activities are severely affected and conservative approaches have done little. Only the portion of the disc that is protruding will be ablated.

Available treatments:
  • Conservative rest and relaxation.
  • The administration of medications such as anti-inflammatory pills, muscle relaxers and cortisone injections.
  • In rare cases, a surgical procedure.