A herniated disc can irritate the nerve adjacent to it

People suffering with back pain, neck pain, or sciatica pain will often times be diagnosed with a herniated disc. The diagnosis is often made from a combination of clinical examination and diagnostic imaging such as MRI or CT scan.

This article reviews what a herniated disc is and how to best treat disc problems in the spine. First you’ll hear from Malton Schexneider, a clinical specialist in orthopaedic physical therapy and an overview discussion from WebMD.

What Is A Herniated Disc And How Can You Treat It?

The term disc herniation was first used in 1934 to describe the processes of sciatic pain. Since that time, “disc herniation” is an umbrella term that encompasses many monikers. Terms you may have heard before include:

  • Herniated disc
  • Slipped disc
  • Prolapsed disc
  • Protruding disc
  • Bulging disc
  • Ruptured disc
  • Extruded disc
  • In an effort to avoid the confusion often associated with medical terminology, the term “herniated disc” is divided into 2 categories:
    1.) Contained protrusions
    2.) Noncontained herniations.

    Contained protrusions are localized disc bulges where the annular fibers (outer rings of the disc) remain intact and firmly connected to the bony vertebrae above and below and protrudes beyond the outer rim of the vertebra. Noncontained herniations are actual disruptions of the annular fibers and permit extrusion of the nuclear material (central jelly like portion of the disc).

    These conditions mainly affect people between 30 and 50 years of age. Although the disc undergoes a natural aging effect, abnormal stress to the disc in the form of excessive bending, twisting, and lifting can result in disc injury. Disc injury can also result from excessive compression loads on the spine such as those encountered from a fall. (click here to see the full article)

    WebMD offers a thorough description of what causes a herniated disc and how to best treat it.

    You can have a herniated disc in any part of your spine. But most herniated discs affect the lower back (lumbar spine). Some happen in the neck (cervical spine) and, more rarely, in the upper back (thoracic spine). This topic focuses mainly on the lower back.

    What causes a herniated disc?
    A herniated disc may be caused by:

    • Wear and tear of the disc. As you age, your discs dry out and aren’t as flexible.
    • Injury to the spine. This may cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc. When this happens, the gel inside the disc can be forced out through the tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. This causes the disc to bulge, break open, or break into pieces.

    What are the symptoms?
    When a herniated disc presses on nerve roots, it can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is called sciatica (say “sy-AT-ih-kuh”). Sciatica is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the low back.

    If a herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may have a backache or no pain at all.
    (Read the full article here)

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