Lower Back Herniated Disc
Lower Back Herniated Disc
Lower back pain is a common problem for millions of people in the United States. When looking at the demographic affected, you will find that lower back pain usually affects people aged 50 and above. A trip to your local physician will reveal one of the many common causes of back pain: the herniated disc.
Often people confuse a lower back herniated disc with a pinched nerve, yet there is clear difference. To understand this difference, you will need to have a basic understanding of how the spine and its discs are arranged. The spine and its vertebrae are arranged in such a way to allow movement while at the same time providing protection for the spinal nerve. Discs are defined as pads or cushions that help minimize the shock that the spine receives due to movement. Discs are located between the largest parts of each of the vertebrae.
The spinal discs are known to disintegrate as one ages. Another common cause of disintegration is injury. As the disintegration occurs, the central portion of the disc may rupture, a process called disc herniation, into the surrounding outer ring. Disc herniation typically occurs in the lower back region and is associated with pain that can be felt in the lower back and/or in the legs.
The symptoms of a lower back herniated disc include marked weakness in the extremities. Extreme cases of lower back herniated discs may also cause loss of bladder and bowel control. The latter symptoms should indicate that your condition is serious and will require urgent medical attention. All these symptoms are in addition to the shooting pain that accompanies the numbness in the legs, buttocks or lower back.
A lower back herniated disc is diagnosed after a thorough medical evaluation has been carried out. The physician may choose to carry out a neurological examination to determine whether or not you have any abnormal reflexes. There may be blood tests to determine whether there is any inflammation or infection present in the affected area. X-rays are one of the most useful ways to determine the wear and tear present in the spine. The status of herniated discs is determined through an MRI scan or a CT scan.
There are a number of methods used to treat your lower back herniated disc. If one is in severe pain, bed rest for or 3 days or more may be required. However, rest for any longer may worsen the problem as the muscles may weaken. It is recommended that one stays active by carrying out light activities such as walking. Another useful treatment method is the use of a heating pad. The pad should be used every two hours and if this is not effective then you may try using a cooling pad or ice pack.
Different treatment methods work for different individuals but non-invasive treatments should be tried first before turning to surgery.