What is a herniated disc?

August 30, 2017

A herniated disc usually affects the cervical spine, but can occur anywhere along it. It is a relatively common condition that happens when spinal discs, cushion-like pads between the vertebrae, move out of place and press on the nerves that are adjacent to it. Without spinal discs, the bones in the spine would rub against one another.  Discs protect the spine and make twisting and bending possible.

How does it happen?

Spinal discs lose fluid volume over time as people age. Additionally, tears and microscopic cracks form as we get older and discs dry out.

Herniated discs can develop from:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Trauma to the spine
  • Repetitive movements
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Genetic factors that cause the disc to degenerate

Lifting objects the wrong way can result in a herniated disc, which is why it’s essential to lift heavy objects with a straight back. Obesity can also cause various forms of health issues, but one is that it puts a heavy amount of strain along the spine. It’s important to take care of yourself and take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms

  • Burning, numbness or tingling
  • Muscle spasms
  • A range of symptoms from aches to severe pain

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience a loss of bowel or bladder control.

How to treat it

In some cases, surgery is required. The good news is that most people who have a herniated disc do not require surgery. They can actually heal on their own, as disc fragments are absorbed by the body. Physical therapy is also an option, as various positions and exercises can help to reduce pain.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a herniated disc, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

This blog post was adapted from Spine Universe. Read the full article here.

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