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Slipped Disc Symptoms, Causes & Diagnosis:
Slipped Disc Symptoms:
The most common symptoms of the slipped disc include the following:
- Pain that extends to your arms and legs.
- Pain and numbness commonly felt on one side of the body.
- Pain that worsens at night.
- Pain felt when walking short distances.
- Pain that worsens after sitting or standing.
- Tingling, burning sensation or aching in the affected area.
- Unexplained muscle weakness.
Slipped Disc Causes:
A slipped disc occurs when the outer rings become weak and tear out which allows the inner portion to slip out. This medical condition occurs with age. Certain motions like turning to lift an object, twisting may also cause slipped disc. Lifting a very large and heavy object can cause great strain on the lower back, thereby result in a slipped disc. People performing very physically demanding job which requires a lot of lifting are at greater risk for slipped discs.
Often people in the age range of 35 to 45 years old are more prone to have slipped disc. This is because, the discs begin to lose the protective water content with age. This can cause the slip to come out of place easily. This medical condition of the spine is more common in men than women.
Slipped Disc Diagnosis:
The doctor will first perform a physical exam to determine for the source of your pain and discomfort. The physical exam involves checking the nerve function and the muscle strength to inspect whether you feel pain while moving or touching the affected area. The patient will be asked about their medical history and the symptoms. The doctor will be interested to know when you felt the first symptoms and what are the activities that worsen your pain.
Your doctor will ask you to undergo imaging tests so that he/she will view the muscles and bones of your spine to identify the damaged areas. The imaging tests include:
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- X-rays: Traditional plan x-rays have limits to image the soft tissues like muscles, discs and nerves, they are used to confirm or exclude other possibilities like infections, tumors or fractures. X-rays play a relatively inexpensive role to confirm the suspicion for the presence of a herniated disc.
- CT scans: The computed tomography scan creates a diagnostic image after the computer reads x-rays. This will show the shape and size of the spinal canal, the structures around it and its content.
- MRI scans: A magnetic resonance imaging is a diagnostic test that produces three-dimensional images of the body structures with the help of magnets and computer technology. An MRI performed with a high magnetic field strength will provide the conclusive evidence for the diagnosis of a slipped disc.
The doctor will combine all pieces of information for determining the original causes for pain, discomfort and weakness.
Slipped disc and other spinal disc problems:
Slipped disc or spinal disc herination is a medical condition affecting the spine. In this condition, the tear in the outer, fibrous ring of an intervertebral disc causes the soft, central portion to bulge out beyond the damaged outer rings. Slipped disc can occur in any part of your spine from your neck to the lower back.
According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, the common area for slipped discs is the lower back. The spinal column is an intricate network of the nerves and blood vessels. A slipped disc can put extra pressure on the nerves and the muscles around it.
Treatment and care for Slipped Disc Disorder:
The treatments for the slipped disc disorder ranges from the conservative to surgical procedures. The treatment depends upon the level of discomfort experienced by the patient and how fat the disc has slipped out of place.
It may be tempting to refrain from all physical activity while you experience pain or discomfort of a slipped disc, but this can lead to joint and muscle stiffness. You should therefore try to remain as active as possible by following low-impact activities like walking.
Most people get relief from the slipped disc pain by following an exercise program that stretches and strengthens the back and surrounding muscles. A physical therapist will recommend exercises that can strengthen the back and reduce your pain. Taking over the counter pain reliever and avoiding heavy lifting or other painful positions can help relieve the pain caused due to this condition.
If your condition does not respond to over-the-counter treatments, then your physician will prescribe stronger medications like:
- Narcotics to relieve pain.
- Muscle relaxers to relieve the muscle spasms.
- Nerve pain medications like duloxetine or gabapentin.
If your symptoms do not subside in six weeks or if the slipped disc is affecting your muscle function, then your doctor will recommend surgery. The surgeon will perform a surgery called as microdiscectomy in which he/she will remove the damaged or the protruding portion of the disk without removing the entire disc.