Understanding The Value Of Acne Treatments

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What Is A Herniated Disc And How Is It Treated?

Health & Medical Blog

The spinal column is composed on a series of bones called vertebrae, which are separated by flexible discs that allow the spine to bend in several directions. These separator discs are hard in the exterior, but contain a soft fluid interior. When the outer shell is compromised, some of the fluid center may leak out, resulting in a herniated disc. This sometimes irritates the spinal nerve that runs along the length of the spinal column. The spinal column starts at the brain stem and ends at the lower back.

When a herniated disc is present in the neck, neck or arm pain can result. A herniated disc in the lower back may result in back pain. If the disc is located near the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the feet, then leg pain will be present. 

What causes a herniated disc?

Most herniated discs occur in the lower back, but can occur in the neck or anywhere along the spine. They can be caused by:

  • Age. As individuals age, spinal discs tend to become more dry and brittle, which causes inflexibility and increases the likelihood of rupture. 
  • Genetics. Herniated discs can be caused by genetic factors which cause spinal discs to become dry and brittle at an earlier age than usual.
  • Physical activity. Picking up heavy objects improperly, or bending and twisting the lower back while lifting, may cause enough stress to cause a herniated disc.
  • Obesity and inactivity. Carrying extra weight around the stomach, combined with a lack of physical activity that causes the core muscles around the abdomen to become too weak to support the spine, may result in a herniated disc.

​Herniated disc treatment

Initially, a patient with back pain is advised to rest for a few days to determine if pain subsides during that period. Most herniated discs heal by themselves over time. If the pain is not too severe, suggestions may also include:

  • Non-prescription medications. Pain relievers such as aspirin, acetaminophen, or ibuprofen may be useful in controlling pain and reducing inflammation.
  • Icing and heat. For the first few days, icing and heat may be alternately applied to the site in twenty-minute intervals to reduce inflammation and relieve pain. After the few days, eliminate the icing and just apply heat.
  • Exercise. Sitting or lying down after a few days have passed is detrimental to recovery, and will cause additional stiffness and pain. Moderate exercise such as walking should be performed periodically.

If the pain is too intense, narcotic painkillers may be prescribed for a limited time. Nerve pain medications and muscle relaxers may also be prescribed if narcotic use can be avoided. Narcotics are addictive and have unpleasant side effects.

If the pain doesn't subside over time, tests are performed to verify the existence of a herniated disc. They cannot be found using conventional x-rays, so a CT scan or MRI must be performed. A CT scan uses a series of x-rays from multiple angles to produce a three dimensional image, while an MRI uses sound waves to produce the image. Surgery is required in a small numbers of cases. If surgery is required, the disc may be repaired if possible, or removed completely, and the discs fused together mechanically, using metal rods. Contact a clinic, such as http://www.swfna.com, about treatment options. 

The chance of herniated discs may be minimized by promoting back health. Keeping weight at a healthy level and maintaining the core muscles that support the spine will go a long way in keeping the back supple and strong.


29 January 2015