Unbearable pain is surely a cause for concern more so when you are one of those who suffers from a herniated disk. This article delves into herniated disk, its causes and symptoms, including ways to treat or prevent it.
What is a herniated disk?
A herniated disk, also called a slipped or prolapsed disk, refers to a problem with the rubbery cushion called disks between the individual bones that stack up to make your spine. It occurs when one or a few of the inner part of your disk pushes out due to a tear in its outer layer.
A herniated disk can irritate nearby nerves and can cause pain and numbness in the arm or leg. It’s usually very painful though there are some cases where people don’t experience symptoms at all. There are also cases where surgery is needed if the pain is too severe.
What causes it?
A herniated disk is most often caused by a gradual deterioration called disk degeneration. Disk degeneration is common as you age as your spinal disk can lose some of their water content making them less flexible and more prone to tear and rupture with even the most minor of injuries.
While deterioration is a common cause of herniated disks, another cause can be an injury. Lifting with your back muscles instead of your leg or thigh muscles as does a blow or fall to the back can cause herniated disks.
There are also factors that increase the chances of you having herniated disks. Some of them include:
- Weight: Extra pressure can be added to your spine when you put on extra weight.
- Occupation: People who have physically demanding jobs are more at risk as they could develop tears due to physical exertion such as pulling, lifting and bending.
- Genetics: In some cases, people have been found to have inherited the predisposition to developing herniated disks.
What are the symptoms?
A slipped disk can occur in any part of your spine, from neck to lower back although the most common are is in your lower back. And since a slipped disk could add extra pressure on the nerves and muscle that are intricately placed on the spine, it could cause any number of the following symptoms:
- Unexplained muscle weakness
- Numbness and pain on one side of the body
- Pain experienced worsens at night
- Pain experienced worsens with certain movements
- Pain experienced worsens after standing or sitting
- Pain experienced when walking short distances
- Tingling or burning sensations when the affected area is touched
The symptoms can be different from person to person but the best way to determine whether or not you have a herniated disk is to go see your doctor.
Treatment and prevention
Treatment for herniated disks typically depends on your level of discomfort and how far along the disk has slipped. Physical therapy, over-the-counter drugs or even surgery.
Here some of the ways to prevent herniated disks.
- Exercising. Strengthening the muscles on your back can help stabilize and support the spine.
- Maintaining good posture. Reduces the pressure on your spine and disks. Keeping your back and straight and aligned can go a long a way to keeping your spine and disks healthy.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. This can help your spine, as excess weight can add pressure on your spine and disks.
Herniated disks are hard to deal with but consulting your physician about the right kind of treatment for you. Keeping a healthy lifestyle can also help in keeping your spine and disks healthy.