What is herniated disc? A herniated disc is a condition in which the annulus fibrosus (outer portion) of the vertebral disc is torn, enabling the nucleus (inner portion) to herniate or extrude through the fibers.
Different terms! There are many terms used to describe spinal disc pathology and associated pain, such as "herniated disc,” "pinched nerve," and "bulging disc," and all are used differently and, at times, interchangeably. Pinched nerve When a patient has a symptomatic herniated disc, the disc itself is not painful, but rather the material that is leaking out of the inside of the disc is pinching or irritating a nearby nerve. (Radicular pain) Disc pain When a patient has a symptomatic degenerated disc (one that causes low back pain and/or leg pain), it is the disc space itself that is painful and the source of pain (Axial pain)
Herniated disc facts • The discs are pads that serve as "cushions" between the vertebral bodies, which minimize the impact of movement on the spinal column. • Each disc is designed like a jelly donut with a central softer component (nucleus pulposus). Abnormal rupture of the central portion of the disc is referred to as a disc herniation.
Usually the most common location for a herniated discto occur is in the disc at the level between the L4/L5 • If the disc herniation is large enough, the disc tissue can press on the adjacent spinal nerves that exit the spine at the level of the disc herniation. • The physical examination, imaging tests, and electrical tests can aid in the diagnosis of a herniated disc. • Depending on the severity of symptoms, treatments for a herniated disc include physical therapy, muscle-relaxant medications, pain killers,…
Herniated Discs Symptoms • Arm or leg pain *If herniated disk is in lower back, the patient will typically feel the most intense pain in his/her buttocks, thigh and calf. *It may also involve part of the foot. *If herniated disk is in neck, the pain will typically be most intense in the shoulder and arm. *This pain may shoot into arm or leg when cough, sneeze or move spine into certain positions.
Numbness or tingling: People who have a herniated disk often experience numbness or tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves. • Weakness: Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken. This may cause patient to stumble, or impair his/her ability to lift or hold items. *** Emergency medical attention: Worsening symptoms Uncontrollable Pain, numbness or weakness… Bladder or bowel dysfunction People who have caudaequina syndrome may become incontinent or have difficulty urinating even with a full bladder. Saddle anesthesia This progressive loss of sensation affects the areas that would touch a saddle — the inner thighs, back of legs and the area around the rectum.
What causes a herniated disc? As we age, the spinal discs gradually Lose fluid volume. This process starts at about age 30 and progresses slowly, over time. As the discs dry out, microscopic cracks or tears can form on the outer surface, causing it to become brittle, weak and more susceptible to injury.
The most common causes of herniated disc are • Wear and tear: Discs dry out and aren’t as flexible as they once were. • Repetitive movements: Work, lifestyle, and certain sports activities that put stress on the spine, especially the lower back, further weaken an already vulnerable area. • Lifting the wrong way: Never lift while bent at the waist. Proper lifting entails lifting with your legs and a straight back. • Injury: High-impact trauma can cause the disc to bulge, tear or rupture. • Obesity: Carrying excess weight puts an undue amount of strain on the spine. • Genetics: There are some genes that are more commonly present in individuals with disc degeneration. More research is needed to investigate the role of these genes—they could be targets of biological treatment in the future.
References: • https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/tc/herniated-disc-other-treatment • https://www.spineuniverse.com/conditions/herniated-disc • https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/herniated-disk/symptoms-causes/syc-20354095 • https://www.medicinenet.com/herniated_disc/article.htm • https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/herniated-disc/herniated-disc-vs-degenerative-disc-disease-treatments