A herniated disc is when part of the disc’s soft center, called a nucleus, slips out through a tear in the annulus. Discs are rubbery cushions located between the vertebrae of the spinal column. Each disc has a nucleus contained within a tougher exterior.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Individuals may suffer from a herniated disc in their lower back or neck. Symptoms of a herniated disc include:
Pain in the arm or leg
Numbness or tingling
Some patients with a herniated disc don’t have any symptoms and might not know they have a herniated disc until their doctor reviews imaging scan results.
A severely herniated disc can compress the entire spinal column and lead to the following symptoms:
Pain, numbness, or weakness that makes it difficult to engage in daily activities
Bladder or bowel dysfunction
Saddle anesthesia, or loss of sensation that affects the back of the legs, inner thighs, and area around the rectum
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Causes of a Herniated Disc
Aging-related wear and tear, also called disc degeneration, can lead to a herniated disc. Over time, the disc loses flexibility and becomes at greater risk of tears or ruptures caused by a minor strain or twist.
Other potential causes of a herniated disc include a traumatic incident, such as a fall or blow to the back, or a car accident.
The following factors increase the risk of developing a herniated disc:
Excess Weight. Individuals who are overweight or obese can
experience significant stress on the discs in the lower back.
Occupation. Roles that require repetitive lifting, pulling, pushing, bending sideways, and twisting place extra strain on the back.
Genetics. Some patients may be genetically predisposed to developing a herniated disc.
Smoking. Smoking may decrease the oxygen supply to the discs and increase the rate of disc degeneration.
Frequent Driving. Sitting for long periods of time and vibrations from driving increase pressure on the spine.
Sedentary Lifestyle. Regular exercise can help strengthen the back and surrounding muscles to reduce the risk of developing a herniated disc.
The right treatment for patients suffering from a herniated disc will depend on the severity of their symptoms and their unique condition. At Las Vegas Primary Care, patients may be treated with pain management therapy, joint and soft tissue injections, and occupational medicine.
Patients receiving pain management therapy may benefit from hot and cold therapy, massage, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, cognitive behavior therapy, meditation, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication, opioids, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, antidepressants, and beta-blockers.
Joint and soft tissue injections may also help alleviate pain from a herniated disc. Injections offered at Las Vegas Primary Care include epidural injections, piriformis injections, sacroiliac joint injections, and trigger point injections. Patients should speak to their physician to find out if they may benefit from joint and soft tissue injections.
Pain from a herniated disc may interfere with daily life and impair a patient’s ability to perform job duties. In these cases, occupational medicine could help the patient adjust to the demands of the workplace as they recover.
Staff at Las Vegas Primary Care are also trained to help employers adapt the workplace to the limitations of employees suffering from a herniated disc. Occupational medicine can help both employers and injured employees agree on reasonable accommodations and create a plan moving forward.
Some patients may need advanced treatment for herniated discs. Advanced treatment may include chiropractic adjustment, physical therapy, and even surgery. Patients are encouraged to speak to their physician at Las Vegas Primary Care to learn more about obtaining advanced treatment.
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