The bones (vertebrae) that form the spine in your back are cushioned by small, spongy discs. When these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when a disc is damaged, it may bulge, tear and/or break open. This is called a herniated disc. It may also be called a "slipped" or ruptured disc. A herniated disc can occur in any part of your spine, from the neck to the lower back.
A “bulging” or herniated disc can occur when gel or fluid pushes out through a crack in its outer layers. This can irritate nearby nerves and result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Many people, however, experience no symptoms from a herniated disc.
Severe pain from a herniated disk may make regular daily activities such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, using the toilet, sneezing or coughing very difficult. Foot or leg numbness or a loss of muscle control may also occur.
A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is often called sciatica ("sy-AT-ih-kuh"). Though not true sciatica, this is the most common symptom of a herniated disc in the low back.
In the neck, the pain may present as radiating into the arm and hand, or even cause headache. Pressure on a nerve can also cause numbness, tingling, weakness or paralysis. It may also cause organ malfunction.
If a herniated disc is not pressing on a nerve, you may have a backache, neck ache, headache or no pain at all.
If you have weakness or numbness in both legs, along with loss of bladder or bowel control, seek medical care right away. This could be a sign of a rare but serious problem called "cauda equina syndrome. "
Only a small number of those with low back pain have serious disc problems.
Chiropractic care is a safe and effective way to treat herniated and bulging disc problems. By taking a comprehensive history of the patient’s condition and performing orthopaedic and neurological tests, a chiropractic doctor will diagnose what type of disc problem may be occurring.
In some cases, your chiropractor may need an MRI to be able to prescribe a suitable treatment plan specific to your needs including adjustments and therapeutic exercises. In many cases, surgery and injections should be considered your last option due to the risks and side effects involved.
HDs take time to heal. Symptoms from a herniated disc usually get better in a few weeks or months. It is vital that you follow the advice from your chiropractor to ensure you continue the process of healing and recovery.
To help you recover:
•Initially rest the neck or back if you have severe pain. However, remember that prolonged bedrest can weaken your muscles and make the problem worse.
•Avoid using a heating pad or a warm shower as this will only increase inflammation of the damaged disc or spinal joints. You should remember that problem is a type of sprain of the disc. You can try an ice pack for 10 to 15 minutes every 2 to 3 hours.
•There may be stretching exercises that your doctor or physical therapist suggests once the sharper radiating pain has resolved. These will help keep your back muscles strong and prevent another injury.
•Medicine won't cure a herniated disc, but it may help with pain and swelling. Reducing pain and swelling may help you get moving, and once the acute phase has passed, which is an important means of healing well.
Be patient, and stay with your treatment.
After you have hurt your back, you are more likely to have back problems in the future. To help keep your back healthy:
•Protect your back when you lift. Never bend and twist simultaneously. Bend your knees and squat, keeping your eyes, shoulders hips and toes all pointing in the same direction.
•Use good posture. When you stand or walk, keep you chest out and up and keep your belly in. This will help support your lower back.
•Get regular exercise. Pay special attention to keeping your "core" strong. Core strength is the general term for how the muscles of your trunk keep your spine and body stable. This helps you have a better posture and to stay balanced when you move. As a result, your movement will be more efficient and powerful, reducing the risk of injury.
Core stability benefits everyone, from older people to top professional athletes. Common programs to improve core strength are "Animal Flow", Pilates, Tai Chi and yoga. Everyone should keep their core strong!