Your spinal column comprises of 26 bones (vertebrae), which are protected by disks. These disks are to protect bones by tolerating the shocks from your daily activities such as lifting objects, twisting and walking. Every disk has two parts one is soft gelatinous inner portion and second is hard outer ring. Injury or weakness can force the inner portion of the disk to come out of the outer ring. This is called either slipped or herniated disk, and it causes pain and irritation. If the slipped disk presses one of your spinal nerves then you may feel numbness and pain with the affected nerve. And if severity of slipped disk increases, then you will have to undergo surgery in order to repair it.
Your doctor will take you through a physical exam to examine and point out the real source of your pain and discomfort. It includes checking your nerve function, muscle strength and examination to judge the severity of your pain while moving or touching the affected area. You will be asked by your doctor to show him/her your medical history. Some imaging tests will be prescribed by your doctor in order to get the right treatment:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
- Discograms, which are not utilized on regular basis
Although a traumatic injury can damage a disk, there are many other causes as well, that can lead to disk herniation such as aging process, every day activities like lifting heavy objects in a wrong way, act of stretching too much while working at gym, or falling on an icy sidewalk. Any such event like that may cause the fibrous outer covering of the disk to get broken or deform to the extent that it presses spinal nerve, particularly if disk material comes out. At times, the swelling, tearing or degeneration of the disk can happen without any apparent cause.
Symptoms of Spinal Disc Herniation:
There are many symptoms of slipped disk, and following are most common symptoms
- You feel pain and numbness, mostly only at one side of your body
- Pain that goes to your arms and legs
- Pain which worsen to unbearable extent at night
- Pain that increases more after standing or sitting
- Pain when you feel while covering short distances
- Muscle weakness
- Feeling of tingling, aching or burning at the affected area
Spinal Disc Herniation Treatments:
There are many treatment options, and few of them are being mentioned below
- Physical therapy: exercise and proper guided stretching by your physician to eliminate the pressure on the nerve root
- Icing and heat: therapy for your pain relief
- Manipulation like chiropractic manipulation
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs)drugs like ibuprofen, naproxen or COX-2 inhibitors for eliminating pain
- Narcotic pain medication in order to reduce the pain
- Oral steroids for removing inflammation
- Epidural injections for eliminating inflammation
Your doctor may ask you to undergo surgery if your symptoms do not go away in six weeks or if your slipped disk keeps on affecting your muscle natural function. Your surgeon can remove the damaged part of the disk without removing the disk. This is called Mircodiscectomy.
In severe cases your doctor may go for Laminectomy; in which either the disk is replaced with an artificial one or the disk is removed and fused with the vertebrae. This process will help restore the stability in the spinal column.
For more information regarding Spinal Disc Herniation and how it should be treated, feel free to call our office at (815) 464-7212.