Slipped Disc

SD1 Slipped Disc

Slipped disc occurs when all or part of a spinal disk is forced through a weakened part of the disc.

Your spinal column is made of up 26 bones (vertebrae) that are cushioned by disks. The disks protect the bones by absorbing the shocks from daily activities like walking, lifting, and twisting.

Each disk has two part – a soft, gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. Injury or weakness can cause the inner portion of the disk to protrude through the outer ring. This is known as a slipped or herniated disk. This causes pain and discomfort. If the slipped disk compresses one of your spinal nerves, you may also experience numbness and pain along the affected nerve. In severe instances, you may require surgery to remove or repair the slipped disk.

Causes

SD3 Slipped DiscOne of the main cause of a slipped disc is the weakening or a tearing of the tissue ring due to overstraining of the vertebral column. This usually is caused by wear and tear. Other risk factors for slipped discs are obesity and pregnancy.

The pain often starts slowly. It may get worse:

•After standing or sitting

• At night

•When sneezing, coughing, or laughing

• When bending backwards or walking more than a few yards, especially if it is caused by spinal stenosis

You may also have weakness in certain muscles. Sometimes, you may not notice it until your doctor examines you. In other cases, you will notice that you have a hard time lifting your leg or arm, standing on your toes on one side, squeezing tightly with one of your hands, or other problems.

 

Treatment

Medications

SD2 Slipped DiscNonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) and narcotic painkillers will be given to people with a sudden herniated disk caused by some sort of injury (such as a car accident or lifting a very heavy object) that is immediately followed by severe pain in the back and leg.

If you have back spasms, you will usually receive muscle relaxants. On rare occasions, steroids may be given either by pill or directly into the blood through an IV.

NSAIDs are used for long-term pain control, but narcotics may be given if the pain does not respond to anti-inflammatory drugs.

Lifestyle Changes

Diet and exercise are crucial to improving back pain in overweight patients.

Physical therapy is important for nearly everyone with disk disease. Therapists will tell you how to properly lift, dress, walk, and perform other activities. They will work on strengthening the muscles that help support the spine. You will also learn flexibility of the spine and legs.

Injections

Steroid injections into the back in the area of the herniated disk may help control pain for several months. Such injections reduce swelling around the disk and relieve many symptoms. Spinal injections are usually done on an outpatient basis, using x-ray or fluoroscopy to identify the area where the injection is needed.

Surgery

Surgery may be an option for the few patients whose symptoms do not go away despite other treatments and time.

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