Herniated Disc Pain
Only a person who has experienced a damaged spinal disc understands the agony and helplessness it brings. The pain can be excruciating. Every movement seems to make it worse. This pain is a warning signal. If you heed the warning and take proper action, the discomfort usually stops, and the problem can be corrected. If you ignore the warning, you could suffer permanent damage.
Anatomy of a Disc
- Spinal discs are supple pads tightly fixed between the vertebrae, the specialized bones that make up the spinal column.
- Each disc is a flat, circular capsule about an inch in diameter and one-quarter inch thick.
- The discs are firmly embedded between the vertebrae and are held in place by the ligaments connecting the spinal bones and the surrounding sheaths of muscle.
- Facet joints are separate from the discs and keep the vertebrae from bending or twisting excessively, which could damage the spinal cord, the vital network of nerves that runs through the center of each vertebra.
- The disc is sometimes described as a shock absorber for the spine, which makes it sound more flexible or pliable than it really is.
- While the discs do separate the vertebrae and keep them from rubbing together, they are far from spring-like.
- Herniated discs are most common in men and women aged 30 to 50, although they also occur in active children and young adults.
- People who do regular, moderate exercise are much less likely to suffer from disc problems than sedentary adults. People who exercise tend to stay flexible considerably longer.
- The vast majority of disc injuries occur in the lumbar region of the lower back. Only 10% of these injuries affect the upper spine.
- Not all herniated discs press on nerves, however, and it is entirely possible to have deformed discs without any pain or discomfort.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
- Although a violent injury can damage a disc, problems with discs are often brought on by the normal aging process or by everyday activities, such as lifting heavy objects the wrong way, stretching too hard during a tennis volley, or slipping and falling on an icy sidewalk.
- Any such event can cause the fibrous outer covering of the disc to break or distort to the point that it presses on a spinal nerve. Sometimes a disc swells, tears, or degenerates without any apparent cause. Genetics has a large role in many disc problems.
Understanding Spinal Disc Problems -- Degenerative Disc Disease
- Disc problems are sometimes lumped together under the term degenerative disc disease. Change in the condition of the disc is a natural result of aging. This is part of our gradual loss of flexibility as we grow older.
- But disc degeneration is far more serious in some people than in others. Severe cases may be the result of a deficiency in collagen, the material that makes up cartilage. Poor muscle tone, poor posture, and obesity also put excessive strain on the spine and the ligaments that hold the discs in place.
How Herniated Discs are Treated at DPI
There are a number of treatment options for herniated discs including medications, rest, exercise, and surgical procedures. The type of treatment prescribed will depend on several factors, including the person's age, type of medications he or she is taking, overall health, medical history, and severity of symptoms.
Procedures to Treat Herniated Discs
- Injury Rehabilitation
- Physical Therapy
- Epidural Steroid Injections
- Facet Injections
- Spinal Cord Stimulation
The Goals of Treatment are the following
- Avoid or modify activities that aggravate pain
- Relieve pain through rehabilitation, pain medications and procedures
- Maintain joint movement and muscle strength through physical therapy
- Decrease stress on the joints by using braces, splints, or canes as needed
- Correct, control, or slow down the underlying disease process