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What is a herniated disk?
A herniated disk is the problem with one of the disks that act as cushions between individual vertebrae that comprises to make the spine. A spinal disk has a soft center encased within a tough exterior. A herniated disk occurs when some of the soft part pushes out through a crack in the tougher exterior. A Spinal Disk Herniation can irritate adjacent nerves and cause pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Some people also experience no symptoms from a herniated disk, and most people who have a herniated disk don't need surgery to rectify the problem.
What are the symptoms?
- Not all herniated disc patients have symptoms
When a slipped disc presses against the spinal nerves, the person feels pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle weakness. The pressure the herniated disc on the spinal nerves determines how bad the symptoms will be. Otherwise harmless actions like laughing, coughing, sneezing, urinating, or even straining while defecating can worsen the pain caused due to a herniated disc.
- Most slipped discs cause back and leg pain
Acute pain radiates through the disc to the buttocks and down the leg to the foot. It is called sciatica. Intense pain below the knee is a common of a bulging disc, since other spine problems don't usually cause pain below the knee. A herniated lower disc can weaken the legs and cause trouble lifting the front of foot off the ground.
- Herniated discs also occur in the neck
They cause pain in one arm, beginning with the armpit and upper shoulder blade and travelling down the arm to one or two fingers. The discomfort can also be felt in the upper middle back and be mistaken for other conditions. The muscles in the arm weaken making it hard to move the fingers. Pressure on nerves at the bottom of the spinal cord can cause loss of bladder or bowel control, both the signs of severe nerve pressure. These symptoms, or loss of muscle function in the leg, are signs of a medical urgency. In rare cases, a ruptured disc in the neck can cause complete paralysis.
What causes a Slipped Disc?
Weak Outer rings - A slipped disk occurs when the outer ring weakens or gets torn, making the inner portion to slip out. The chances increase with age. Certain movements can also cause a slipped disk.
Twisting- A disk can get displaced while one is twisting or turning to lift an object. Lifting heavy things can put great strain on the lower back, resulting in a slipped disk. If you have a very physically demanding job that requires a lot of lifting, you may be at higher risk of slipped disks.
Obesity - Overweight people face higher chances of suffering from a slipped disk because their disks must support the additional weight. Weak muscles and a sedentary lifestyle may also contribute to development of a slipped disk.
Age - People around 35 to 45 years old are more vulnerable to have a pinched nerve. This is because the disks begin to lose some of their protective fluid content with increasing age. As a result, they can slip more easily out of place. They are more common in men than in women.
Herniated Disc Treatment
The treatment chart will be decided by the patient and doctor based on various factors like severity of the symptoms, patient's physical activity level, and how the lifestyle might be affected. The treatment of a herniated disc includes surgical as well as non-surgical options. In a majority of cases the treatment starts with non-surgical options that prove effective for more than 90% of patients. If the non-surgical options do not yield required results, the surgical options are considered. For patients whose worsen gradually, or who experience loss of bladder and bowel control, surgical options are considered fast.
Non-surgical techniques aim at maintaining activity unless the pain is unbearable
- In need for bed rest, limit it to 1-2 days, anymore than that can weaken the muscles and worsen symptoms
- Avoid activities such as bending, lifting, or sitting for long periods that intensify the symptoms
- Use a firm mattress while sleeping
- Keep a pillow under the waist, another under the shoulder if you sleep on your side, or under your knees if you sleep on your back
- Ice compression can help with pain if applied several times a day for around 20 minutes.
- Lose excess weight to prevent recurrences
- Do exercises once you start feeling better to improve posture.
- Physiotherapy can strengthen the spine muscles and reduce the risk of injury to the disc and spinal nerves.
- Exercises that flatten the curve in the neck and lower back to release the pressure on the discs should be performed regularly.
- Supervision from a physical therapist is helpful if one is not sure if he can do it on his own.
- Keep changing sitting position.
Surgery is performed in case of severe damage to nerve or spinal cord when relief is necessary to preserve or to try to restore some function. It is also considered when other pain relief methods fail, and people are unwilling or unable to give it more time and feel that the benefits of surgery outweigh the risks. In case the patient suffers from loss of bladder or bowel control, he/she may need surgery as early as possible. The surgery to remove the ruptured disc is done through a small incision under general anesthesia.
Proper grip and a supportive neck collar can help a pinched nerve in the cervical spine. During traction, a machine carefully pulls the spine to relieve the pressure on it. Two years or less of conservative treatment for back pain in which there is no significant nerve damage works well with surgery, physical therapy, and any of the other treatments.
To prevent a recurrence of a herniated disc:
- Do exercises to strengthen the abdominal and back muscles.
- Maintain proper posture. Stand upright, sit straight, lift things with the back straight).
- Sit with your backside against the back of the seat, do not slide forward. Use a foot rest.
- Bend the knees and hips when lifting something and keep the back straight.
- Hold an object close to the body when carrying it.
- Avoid wearing high-heeled shoes..
- Keep at a healthy weight with a trim abdomen.
- Don't smoke.
Finding the right medical help is as important as getting the right treatment. Spine and Neuro Surgery Hospitals in India are fully functional with only the best medical facilities to offer. Spine and Neuro Surgery Hospital in India is a renowned healthcare destination providing all necessary medical facilities at affordable price. The cost of surgery in India is nearly 30 percent of what one has to expend in Western developed nations. The cost of Herniated Disc surgery in cities like New Delhi, Nagpur, Mumbai is more bearable than many other cities.
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