Identifying a Herniated Disc
Between the vertebra in the spine are discs that act to absorb impact for the bones in the spine. The discs are aptly named because of their round, flat shape. The annulus is a tough outer shell that protects the jell which makes up the nucleus of each “section” of the spine. This all serves to provide a cushioning effect with everything in the spinal structure held together with ligaments.
You may experience a herniated disc in any area of the spine from top to bottom. Pain may be at the sight of the bulge or may be referred by nerves to surrounding areas of the back or hips. However the most common location for the injury is in the lower back, hence the seemingly endless number of people who experience lower back pain. Herniated discs are caused by impact, heavy lifting or just the effects of aging and extended wear and tear. This is the most common issue when aging causes the connecting ligaments to weaken to where just minor sudden movements can cause significant pain.
No definitive reason for some people being particularly prone to this type injury has been given unless a specific activity points to the type of wear that would cause this. It is however, now shown through research that a genetic predisposition may exist for spinal disc injuries.
As diverse as the reasons for this condition itself, are the symptoms of a disc injury. In some cases where nerves are not directly involved, the only symptom of this injury is a dull lower backache. Or no pain at all may be experienced, only stiffness. If the pain results from a nerve directly affected by the bulge, pain may be sharp, severe, and even debilitating. Weakness or numbness may occur in the lower back if the injury is in the lumbar region. In the cervical area which is the neck portion of the spine, pain may be in the neck or referred down the back into shoulder blades or arms.
These type pains are good indicators to the patient that something is wrong and should seek medical attention. The only way a person will know for sure if they have a herniated disc is by going to their doctor to have diagnostic tests done. This may be as simple as x-rays or as complex as an MRI. But from these tests, doctors should be able to identify the injury and from this, prescribe a course of treatment.
If back pain does not improve with rest over a few days time, it is important to see your doctor for a diagnosis and course of treatment so that the injury does not deteriorate and the problem become worse.