Herniated Disc Pain
Herniated Disc Pain - a general discussion
A herniated disc is a common diagnosis for patients experiencing pain in their lower extremities from just under the base of the spine radiating down into the legs. A herniated disc usually occurs when a section of one of the spinal disc gets damaged by an accident or just wears out from years of usage. When this happens it permits a portion of the protective gel in the disc to leak out and touch some of the surrounding nerves. When the gel touches these nerves there can be a tremendous amount of herniated disc pain.
Herniated disc pain is typically accompanied by other symptoms indicative of the herniation. Among these symptoms are tingling and numbness, muscle weakness, electric shock and even bladder and bowel problems due to the proximity of these organs to the spinal vertebrae. Bowel and bladder problems in particular are a cause for concern as these need immediate medical attention; unmoved bowel or urine can increase toxicity in the body which can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Diagnosis of herniated discs is done through a careful and thorough physical examination to be conducted only by a qualified physician. This is done by testing the reflexes, muscle strength and sensation as well as running an MRI to get an image of the whole length of the vertebra to determine where the disc herniation occurred. Together, these tests can help an experienced physician determine if there is indeed a herniated disc as well as propose potential treatment options to address the abnormality.
Proper treatment for slipped disc cases depend on four critical factors: 1) herniated disc pain and other symptoms, 2) activity level of the patient, 3) age of the patient, and 4) whether or not the symptoms are getting worse instead of better.
Most treatment methods require rest and relaxation to manage herniated disc pain. Modification of one’s habits, activities, intensity of work are all required to prevent worsening the condition as well as allow the body to heal itself using natural processes. In most cases the doctor will first recommend a number of less intrudive methods before suggesting surgery. Studies have shown that most herniated discs will heal on their own if given time, rest and proper treatment.
Management of herniated disc pain at times requires taking prescription medication like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, oral steroid medications, or alternative medication options like muscle relaxants. While these do not address the pain directly, the medications act on the muscles surrounding the pinched area so that the nerve and the spinal cord are not pressed or compressed by stressed and contracted back muscles. If the pain is severe enough and the anti-inflammatory drugs seem not to be helping then stronger medication may be prescribed.
In some cases when the herniated disc pain and the case in general only seems to be getting worse with time, surgery may become a last resort. This is often the case for conditions when bowel and urine flow is impaired.
Herniated disc back surgery involves cutting a small hole near the herniated area to clear the space around the pinched disk to prevent compression of the nerve endings. Surgeons often times limit the hole to a micro-insertion or endoscopy to prevent disturbing the area too much as this can worsen the issue and the pain.
If you are experiencing herniated disc pain in the lower back that doesn’t go away after a few days, consider consulting your doctor. If caught in time it may be prevented from getting worse with a little time off and some non intrusive treatment. Many people just try to live with the pain for a while but in the end it only cost them more time, more pain and increases their chances of needing back surgery to correct the problem.
It is important to remember that the best defense against a herniated disc and the herniated disc pain that goes with it is to be careful and follow procedures when doing intense physical activities. Be sure no unnecessary stress is put upon the vertebral discs that could cause them to be damaged. As in most other illnesses, prevention is always better than cure.
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