Human spine is made of 33 vertebrae, and the spinal discs are consisted of the inner layer that is called nucleus and outer layer that is named annulus fibrosus. The main role of these disks is to protect the spine from any kind of injury and they provide bending movements of the spine. In case when spinal discs degenerate due to certain reasons such as aging or an injury, for example, it may happen that jelly-like inner layer of the discs ruptures and gets herniated through the outer layer. It is then called herniated disc. There are many other names for herniated disc, such as compressed disc or bulging disc or prolapsed disc, as well as slipped disc, ruptured disc or herniated intervertebral disc. In the majority of cases, this condition usually happens in lumbar sine, although it may happen in other parts of the spine.
Causes of herniated disc
One of the reasons responsible for the occurrence of herniated disk is aging and consequent wearing and tearing. In such case, it is called degenerative disk disease. Another cause is lifting heavy things, as well as any kind of injury to the spine. Other potential causes for the occurrence of this condition are smoking, obesity and even excess body height.
Symptoms of herniated disc
The herniated disc is a condition that has its characteristic symptoms that vary depending on the location and the size of disc herniation. In the case when the herniated disc makes pressure on the nerves that are in the affected area, then the most common symptoms are pain and numbness in the back and legs. When the herniated disc is in the lower back, it can cause pain that spreads to the buttocks and legs. This pain tends to aggravate when sitting, sneezing or coughing. On the other side, if the herniated disk is in the upper spine, the main symptom is the pain that tends to expand to the neck and shoulders, but people who suffer from this condition may also experience tingling, muscle spasm and weakness. One of the most serious symptoms of this condition is cauda equine syndrome, which must be treated immediately with the surgery.
Treatment of herniated disc
Herniated disc is a disorder that should be treated promptly. Otherwise, it can cause serious complications, such as progressive pain and numbness in one or both legs, bowel or bladder dysfunction and gradual loss of sensation. Herniated disc can be treated with nonsurgical methods, such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy, hydrotherapy, electrical stimulation, cold therapy, heat therapy, bracing, traction and stretching. Surgical options include minimally invasive procedures, such as chemonucleolysis and endoscopic discectomy, and open decompression, such as discectomy, microdiscectomy and spinal fusion.