What Is a Herniated Disc
Before diving into the important details about your herniated disc, it is important to understand what’s actually happening in your body.
The spine is made up of 24 vertebrae, bones, each stacked on top of one another to create a canal that serves as protection for the spinal cord. The area containing five vertebrae in your lower back is referred to as the lumbar spine. The spinal cord and nerves travel down the canal created by your vertebrae and carry signals between your brain and muscles. Additionally, flat, round shock absorbing discs called intervertebral discs are situated between each vertebra. These discs are made up of the annulus fibrosus, a tough outer covering that makes up the outer ring, along with the nucleus pulposus, the soft, jelly-like portion contained in the center of the intervertebral disc.
A disc is described as herniated when the nucleus pulposus (the jelly-like substance) pushes against the annulus fibrosus (the outer ring), which could be due to a sudden injury or could occur naturally as your body ages. This pressure from the nucleus pulposus is responsible for the lower back pain associated with a herniated disc.
Symptoms associated with a herniated disc include:
- Pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body
- Pain that extends to your arms and/or legs
- Pain that worsens at night
- Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
- Pain when walking short distances
- Unexplained muscle weakness
- Tingling, aching or burning sensations in the affected area
Herniated Disc Treatment
It is important to see a chiropractor immediately if you begin to experience the symptoms of a herniated disc so that you can be properly tested by physical examination or image testing. Failing to see a chiropractor for treatment may result in a worsening of your injury and, therefore, a longer, possibly more painful recovery.
Depending on the severity of your injury, multiple treatment approaches may be taken, for example, physical therapy, muscle relaxant medications, pain medications, anti-inflammatory medications, local injection of cortisone and surgical operations.