Herniated Disc Treatment in Murray
WHY DO WE GET BACK OR NECK PAIN?
The most important thing to remember is that back pain is most often the result of a structural problem, and until the structure of your spine is addressed, the pain will persist.
The outer portion of the disc is called the annulus fibrosis, and the soft inner structure is called the nucleus pulposus. These unique structures provide flexibility, cushioning, and freedom of movement for the spine. It also creates space between the vertebrae so that the delicate spinal nerves can pass through the openings called foramen to reach their target destination. In the low back, the destination for those nerves in your legs is the low back, while in the neck it is the arms.
If the discs become damaged in any way, a cycle of pain begins with the start of progressive problems that can culminate in a herniated disc or ruptured disc.
HOW ARE DISCS DAMAGED?
Overall, discs are very tough and resilient, but they are very susceptible to injury with repetitive activity and loading.
For example, when you lift incorrectly or sit in one position for long periods of time, the fibers in the disc begin to weaken. An example of this is a common paper clip. If you bend the paper clip once, it doesn’t break, but if you do it over and over again, it just snaps in half.
The fibers of the outer portion of a disc, the annulus fibrosis, behave in much the same way. The fibers break down as the stresses on the disc are repeated (for example, repeated lifting or sitting in one position for long periods of time). This creates small tears and fissures in the discs, creating a pathway for the softer inner nucleus to slowly leak out. This is the beginning of a disc bulge or herniation.
WHAT IS A HERNIATED OR BULGING DISC?
When your disc is damaged or torn, the nucleus—the soft jelly-like substance inside the disc—can leak out. If it leaks out completely, it’s called a herniated disc. If the layers of the outer material (annulus) are not all completely torn, discs can bulge without herniating. It’s like if you step on a balloon and it doesn’t pop. The balloon bulges out to one side or the other without the rubber breaking.
When a disc bulges or herniates, it is a major cause of back pain. It can also pinch the delicate nerves that pass by as they exit the spine and go into the legs or arms. That’s what can cause radiating pain. In other words, pain, tingling, and numbness going down your leg or arm and possibly into your toes or fingers!
This radiating pain is often referred to as sciatica in the leg or cervical radiculopathy in the arm.
As the outer portion of the disc weakens, the pressure on the disc causes the inner nucleus to migrate through the small cracks and fissures that have been created. This pressure changes with various activities, and an activity such as lifting incorrectly can dramatically increase the pressure inside the disc.
When the pressure in the disc increases, the forces push the inner material outward. And if there are small cracks or tears in the outer fibers of the disc, this material can literally “squeeze out.”
Symptoms of herniated discs include:
- Numbness or tingling in the body part(s) connected to the affected nerves
- Pain that shoots up or down into you arm or leg
- Weakness in the muscles connected to the affected nerves