Most often, this disorder develops unnoticed. If you sometimes notice an unexplained dull pain in your back that gets worse with exercise, coughing, or sneezing, it could be a herniated disc.
However, the symptoms can be different, and sometimes, they do not appear at all until the hernia turns into something more serious, such as radiculitis or even a stroke. There are various treatments to go about it; however, if you are someone who wants to avoid the surgical means, then chiropractic from the best Westminster chiropractor is a viable solution for you!
But first, you need to be sure it’s a herniated disc, and for that purpose, we have compiled this guide for you!
What is a herniated disc?
The official name for this disorder is a herniated disc (a flat formation between the vertebrae).
Elastic and shape-changing discs allow the spine to bend and absorb the load that it takes on. And everything would be fine, but discs are not highly durable things.
Specialists from the American research centre Mayo Clinic compare each of them to a jelly doughnut: inside, there is a soft nucleus pulposus, which is enclosed in a fibrous ring of dense tendons.
When we lean forward, and even with a load, the vertebrae compress and try to squeeze the “jelly doughnuts” back. In most cases, intervertebral discs can withstand this load.
But if the tendon ring weakens for some reason, it may rupture, and the softcore will protrude outward from the intervertebral space. This situation is called a herniated disc.
But why is it dangerous? Let’s see!
Why is a spinal hernia dangerous?
The pressure of vertebrae on vertebrae increases. The reasons are clear because the gasket between them has become thinner. Resultantly, the vertebrae rub against each other, causing pain and, in the long term, various inflammatory processes.
The hernia puts pressure on the roots of the spinal nerves. Pinching a nerve root is also quite painful. But it’s not just about pain: pressure on nerve endings can result in sciatica and even paralysis. And given that the spinal nerves transmit signals to the limbs and internal organs, pain and malfunction of the arms, legs, bladder, liver, kidneys, and so on are possible.
The hernia puts pressure on nearby blood vessels. Because of this, the blood supply to organs and tissues deteriorates. The brain often suffers.
Where does a herniated disc come from?
Here are the most common reasons that cause weakening of the annulus fibrosus.
● You regularly lift something heavy, putting stress on your lower back or shoulders.
● You have fallen or otherwise injured your back.
● You have problems with posture – scoliosis or the habit of sitting in a hunched position.
● You spend a lot of time sitting.
● You suffer from osteochondrosis.
● You are overweight.
● You are constantly lacking sleep, which is why your spine does not have time to recover from daily stress.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
Let us repeat once again that the symptoms of a hernia are varied, and in some cases, they may not exist at all. Therefore, the best way to track the problem in time is to undergo regular preventive examinations with an orthopedist, chiropractor or at least a therapist. And, of course, do not ignore the signals that your back gives you.
Here’s how a herniated disc manifests itself:
● Aching pain of unknown origin that appears from time to time in the lower back or cervical spine.
● Shooting pain that sometimes accompanies sudden movements, such as turning or bending.
● Lower back pain that hits and radiates to your hip or leg.
● Pain in the cervical spine that radiates to the shoulder or arm.
● Increased numbness or tingling in the toes and/or groin.
● Disorders of the genitourinary system: urinary incontinence or retention, constipation, diarrhoea, erection problems.
● Regular headaches, dizziness.
● Jumps in blood pressure for no apparent reason.
If you experience any of these symptoms, be sure to consult your doctor. The doctor will then as he should conduct a physical examination – as a rule, your complaints and examination are enough to make a diagnosis. Sometimes, an X-ray, CT scan or MRI may be required: these studies will allow the specialist to exclude other causes of back pain and determine the location of the hernia as accurately as possible.
How to treat a herniated disc
Most often, to regain your good health, it is enough to take two steps.
1. Get rid of pain
Conventional over-the-counter painkillers based on ibuprofen or naproxen relieve pain well. Your doctor will then prescribe the required dosage for you. He will also recommend stronger medications if over-the-counter ones do not cope with the task.
You may also need anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants – medications that help relieve tension in the back muscles.
2. Learn to take care of your spine
The same doctor and, more preferably, a chiropractor will most likely prescribe you exercise therapy – training aimed at strengthening the small muscles that support the spinal column. Thanks to them, your back will be able to bear the load more efficiently.
In addition, during physical therapy, they will tell you how to lift weights correctly and teach you to avoid sudden movements – twisting and bending of the spine.
3. Have surgery
Surgical treatment is prescribed only in extreme cases:
● If the pain does not go away within 6 weeks.
● If the hernia is accompanied by progressive paresis (weakness in the legs) or failure of pelvic functions (loss of control over the bladder and bowels).
Most often, surgeons remove only the protruding part of the intervertebral disc. This is enough to relieve pressure on the nerve endings. In sporadic cases, the damaged disk is removed altogether.
Summing it up: What else can you try if you don’t want surgery?
Here are the most common alternative techniques that can help you regain your well-being. But it is not exactly.
Acupuncture: Some studies show that acupuncture can actually relieve chronic back pain. However, scientists admit that this topic still requires further study.
Chiropractic (manual therapy): There is evidence that spinal manipulation is moderately effective for back pain that lasts. So, you are recommended to visit the best Westminster chiropractor today!
Massage: Properly performed massage provides short-term relief from chronic backpain.
Yoga: It is a combination of physical activity, breathing exercises and meditation, which also helps some people get rid of chronic pain.