Slipped disc and spinal disc problems
Spinal disc problems can be debilitating and extremely painful, causing back and neck pain, weakness, numbing and tingling. They can be caused by a number of things, but the main cause is a slipped disc.
The spinal chord is made up of 24 individual vertebrae bones, which are built on top of each other. Intervertebral discs are located in between these vertebrae, throughout the whole spine. These flat, circular pads have an elastic core called nucleus pulposus and a tough outer membrane called annulus fibrosus. They act as a shock absorber between the vertebrae, maintaining your movement and flexibility. The spinal discs are held firmly in place by ligaments and bend on facet joints. These joints allow the spine to bend and move, but not enough that it would damage the nerves that run through the center of the vertebra.
When put under great stress, a disc may swell and push through its outer membrane. When this happens it breaks from its secure place, and presses against surrounding nerves. If this gets worse, it can rupture or tear, injuring the spinal cord itself. This is called a spinal disc herniation and normally occurs in the lower part of the back.
Slipped Disc Symptoms
Some slipped discs do not press on nerves, so don’t cause any pain or discomfort. But a slipped disc is mostly very noticeable for the majority of sufferers. Sharp pains, numbness of limbs, tingling sensations and weakness in the arms and legs are all symptoms of a slipped disc. Many people suffer from prolonged and chronic pain, which grows worse when bending the spine and being more active.
Slipped Disc Causes
Slipped discs are much more common in older people than younger people. As people get older, their discs’ cores solidify and lose fluidity, make them much more at risk of damage. People who do not exercise are also much more likely to suffer from slipped discs. Slipped discs can also be caused by a sports injury or accident, after great trauma or stress to the spinal cord.
Slipped Disc Diagnosis
You would need to visit a doctor to diagnose a slipped disc; they will perform a neurological examination to check for weaknesses, damage, and reflexes. X-rays may not work as it is hard to see the soft tissues with these. When the source of the pain has been located, it is relatively easy to diagnose.
Slipped Disc Treatments
Rest and pain relief work well for slipped discs in their early stages. But if the outer membrane has ruptured or the nerves are damaged, treatment is much more difficult. Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) is a small electrical current which helps some sufferers, as well as acupuncture. There are types of surgery which can help more damaged discs as well. These range in depth, with microsurgery only removing some of the swellings to take pressure off the nerves, to replacing a damaged disc with an artificial replacement. There is a range of therapies and options to be considered, which your doctor or Chiropractor will be able to advise you on.