Herniated Disc In Back
Herniated Disc in Back – Treatments
In medical terms, a herniated disc in back is said to occur when the outer part of the spinal disc weakens, leaving the inner soft parts to press outward until they touch the nerves, causing pain. To understand this phenomenon better requires a short anatomy lesson on the spinal cord.
The spine is made of small bones called vertebrae. Between each of these bones lies an elastic cushion known as a disc. It is made up to two parts – an outer ring called the annulus that is firm and thick and an inner part called the nucleus which is soft and gel-like. With age the elasticity of the disc reduces and the outer ring cracks, the middle part comes out and may press on the spinal nerves, causing pain that shoots right down the legs.
The two major causes of a herniated disc are trauma and muscle imbalance. Trauma mainly originates from a fall or an accident. Muscle imbalance is mainly caused by incorrect posture, either standing or sitting. This causes abnormal pressure on the discs, leading to accelerated wear and tear. Another cause is a condition known as spinal stenosis, which refers to the narrowing of the space around the spinal nerves and cord. Strain on the lower back can also lead to a herniated disc in back.
A herniated disc in back is normally diagnosed by a doctor through a physical examination, with the aid of an MRI and X-rays. Treatment options depend on the examination findings and are mainly centered on two main factors. One is to reduce the pain as it can be unbearable. The other is to repair the problem causing the herniated disc in back.
Correct posture is a great preventive measure. If you spend most of your time seated, ensure you have a chair that supports your back well.
Keep hydrated - Water is key to keeping the discs in shape and reduces the speed at which they dry out.
Medication - Taking pain killers is one course of treatment for a herniated disc in back. Though these do not really solve the underlying problem they are necessary to ensure one is able get through the day. Pain killers also reduce the inflammation. A short period of rest is also helpful in alleviating the symptoms. People experiencing spasms take muscle relaxants. In extreme cases, steroid injections may be administered.
Physical therapy. One can seek help from a physiotherapist for the correct muscle strengthening exercises to reduce the pressure on the discs. A therapist also trains on techniques to carry out activities such as lifting and sitting in a way that does not strain the spine.
Surgery. This is normally done as last resort when all other treatments have yielded no results. It usually involves removal of the worn out disc which is replaces by an artificial one. However, there are other types of operations available.
A herniated disc in back will generally heal with time if diagnosed early and given the right treatment, but it may be a long and painful process. The golden rule here is prevention is better than cure. Avoid exerting pressure on the spine and don’t hunch over your computer all day.
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