What is a herniated disc?

A herniated disc usually affects the cervical spine, but can occur anywhere along it. It is a relatively common condition that happens when spinal discs, cushion-like pads between the vertebrae, move out of place and press on the nerves that are adjacent to it. Without spinal discs, the bones in the spine would rub against one another.  Discs protect the spine and make twisting and bending possible.

How does it happen?

Spinal discs lose fluid volume over time as people age. Additionally, tears and microscopic cracks form as we get older and discs dry out.

Herniated discs can develop from:

  • Overuse injuries
  • Trauma to the spine
  • Repetitive movements
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Genetic factors that cause the disc to degenerate

Lifting objects the wrong way can result in a herniated disc, which is why it’s essential to lift heavy objects with a straight back. Obesity can also cause various forms of health issues, but one is that it puts a heavy amount of strain along the spine. It’s important to take care of yourself and take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Symptoms

  • Burning, numbness or tingling
  • Muscle spasms
  • A range of symptoms from aches to severe pain

Seek medical attention immediately if you experience a loss of bowel or bladder control.

How to treat it

In some cases, surgery is required. The good news is that most people who have a herniated disc do not require surgery. They can actually heal on their own, as disc fragments are absorbed by the body. Physical therapy is also an option, as various positions and exercises can help to reduce pain.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a herniated disc, please contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

This blog post was adapted from Spine Universe. Read the full article here.

Treating Sciatica

Those experiencing pain in the lower back or hip that extends into the back of the thigh and leg may have a common condition known as sciatica.

Sciatica may feel like an intense leg cramp, with sharp, shooting pain. This crampy feeling can last for weeks, and can also cause muscles to feel weak and numb.

Those between the ages of 30 and 50 are at the greatest risk for developing this condition. It can occur simply from the wear and tear of muscles over time or any sudden pressure on the vertebrae, but most commonly develops from a herniated disk. The herniated disk puts pressure on the nerve roots that become the sciatic nerve. These nerve roots will likely become inflamed and irritated, thereby increasing pain.

It’s important to meet with your doctor to diagnose and treat sciatica. Be prepared to offer a complete medical history, including details on where and when your pain started and how it feels. Your physician will likely conduct a physical examination to pinpoint the issue, and may ask you to do various exercises, or order X-rays or an MRI.

In severe circumstances, sciatica can be treated surgically. Most often, however, the condition will heal itself after adequate time and rest. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or aspirin, can help to manage the pain, though you’ll need to consult with your doctor before taking any medication. Although resting the affected area is of the utmost importance, some movement is essential to the recovery process. Movement will help to reduce inflammation, which reduces pain. Every circumstance is different, and sometimes your physician may suggest cortisone injections and/or physical therapy.

If you’re having issues with sciatica, contact Campbell Clinic to meet with a physician. For more information about Campbell Clinic, please visit our website.

This blog post was adapted from AAOS.