A herniated disc occurs when there is a problem with one of the cushions (discs) between the individual bones (vertebrae) of the spine. The discs are shaped like donuts, with soft interiors and harder exteriors. A herniation (or rupture) occurs when the disc’s more fragile center pushes out through a tear or break in its exterior.
Herniated discs usually occur in the lower back or the neck. The symptoms you experience may vary or, sometimes, you may have no symptoms at all. It is possible for a person to have a herniated disc without any knowledge of it; evidence of a herniated disc may only show up on spinal images.
In most cases, herniated discs can cause irritation to the nearby nerves and cause you further pain, numbness, or weakness in an arm or leg.
Common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Neck of back pain
- Arm or leg pain
- Pain in the buttocks, thigh, or calf
- Numbness or tingling
- Stumbling, clumsiness
What Caused Your Ruptured Disc?
Herniated discs are usually caused by wear and tear over time. Over time, your spinal discs become less flexible, which makes them more prone to disc degeneration. The discs may then rupture with certain movements or even minor strain.
Patients are often unable to pinpoint the exact moment of their disc herniation, or what movement may have caused it.
Most often, the strain that causes a herniated disc is the result of using the back muscles instead of the leg muscles to lift heavy objects. Much more rare causes of ruptured discs are falls and accidents.
Factors that can increase the likelihood of a herniated disc include:
- Being overweight or underweight
- Your job or activity level
- Driving frequency
- Frequent smoking
- Sedentary lifestyle
Preventing Herniated Discs
Here are some examples of ways you can avoid a future disc herniation:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- If you sit or stand for long periods of time, take breaks to stretch or relax
- Lift objects using the muscles in your legs, not your back
- Exercise regularly
- Avoid smoking
- Maintain a good posture
A herniated disc may happen to anyone, at any age, and may also be inherited. The best way to avoid disc herniation is to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and check-in immediately with a medical professional once you experience back or neck pain you suspect may be related to a herniated disc.
When to See a Professional
Disc herniation can cause immense pain and irritation, disrupting your everyday activities. If you experience any of the symptoms above, it may be time to consult a pain management professional. Seek medical attention as soon as possible to pinpoint the root of the issue and start working on your immediate recovery.
The most common treatment options for herniated discs include medication, physical therapy, and surgery. To assess your symptoms properly, and find the right treatment to alleviate your pain, contact Balcones Pain Consultants by calling (512) 834-4141. You may also request an appointment now. We guarantee quality service and treatments tailored to your unique needs.