All Back Pain Is Not Created Equal
Everyone complains about back pain. The back consists of different muscles, tendons, and bones supporting the entire body. So persons can quickly put undue strain or stress on the back after a hard day’s work. But not all back conditions are as simple as stress. Some are a result of specific conditions like a bulging or herniated disc. With herniated discs, the pain and discomfort can be long-term without action. But what’s happening behind the scenes?
Let’s discuss discs
To understand herniated discs, one must explore the makeup of the spine. The spine consists of bones called vertebrae stacked on each other. Vertebrae are crucial for stability and protecting the body’s information highway, the spine. Between each vertebra are intervertebral discs. These fibrous discs are essential, acting as shock absorbers. The discs can shift out of place either through wear and tear or injury, called a herniated disc. Herniated discs can press on surrounding nerves causing intense pain and discomfort. The pain can be easily dismissed as everyday back pain. However, there are 3 signs that can confirm if the issue is indeed a bulging disc.
1. When it all goes numb
Herniated discs can happen anywhere along the spine. Slipped discs commonly occur in the cervical or neck region and the lumbar or lower back region. These discs tend to press on nerves, which can cause a feeling of numbness in the back. Since these nerves run to surrounding limbs, persons with herniated discs also feel numbness in the arms or legs. If the feeling of numbness does not go away, see a doctor immediately.
2. It sucks to sit
Persons with a herniated disc in the lumbar region, in particular, will find sitting quite difficult. Sitting brings added pressure from the upper body onto the lower part of the spine. This pressure can cause the affected disc to bulge slightly forward, causing pain. Sitting should be a comfortable experience. But those with herniated discs feel otherwise and will frequently need to shift weight to one side.
3. Did somebody say sciatica?
Sciatica is a common condition where persons feel pain from the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the largest in the body. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, through the buttocks, and down each leg. Persons with sciatica experience nerve pain in the buttocks, thigh, and lower leg. But sciatica is a sign of an underlying issue. More times than not, that underlying issue is a herniated disc pressing on the nerve. Chronic sciatic pain is a sign to go to the doctor.
Treating your herniated disc
In treating herniated discs, all patients must know that no two treatment methods are the same. There is a range of conservative and surgical treatments available. The treatment will depend on the degree of pain, previous treatment, and overall health. Treatments like physical therapy, chiropractic care, massage, and medication, including steroids, can help. If these fail, then the doctor will suggest surgery. A standard surgical procedure is a discectomy, where part of the bulging disc gets removed. Other strategies include ACDF surgery, where the surgeon removes most of the disc and fuses the vertebrae. Most surgical procedures have high success rates since doctors now use minimally invasive techniques.
Don’t ignore the signs
Herniated discs affect people differently. Some persons can deal with the pain, while others struggle daily. Whatever the symptoms, if these 3 signs are constant, consider treatment right away. Addressing the herniated disc can not only improve quality of life but prevent further damage. For more information about the signs of herniated discs, speak with a healthcare provider.