Beyond the Backache: 12 Factors behind Herniated Discs

Herniated discs, also known as slipped discs, is a condition that occurs when one of your spinal discs protrudes. This usually results in pain and numbness. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to treat the condition.

Your spinal column consists of a series of bones, known as vertebrae. These bones are stacked onto each other. From top to bottom, the column contains seven bones in the cervical spine, 12 in the thoracic spine, and five in the lumbar spine, and then the sacrum and coccyx at the base. There are discs between each bone to serve as a cushion. The discs cushion the bones by absorbing shocks from daily activities, such as twisting, lifting, and walking.

Each disc consists of two parts; a soft, gelatinous inner portion and a tough outer ring. When you sustain an injury, the inner portion of your disc starts to protrude via the outer ring. This is called herniated, prolapsed, or slipped ring. This usually leads to discomfort and pain. If the herniated disc compresses a spinal nerve, it can lead to numbness and pain in areas where the affected nerve innervates. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend surgery to repair or remove the slipped disc.

A herniated disc, also called a ruptured disc, is a condition that occurs when the soft, gel-like center of a spinal disc pushes through a crack in the rough exterior casing. This can result in pain, weakness, or numbness, often radiating down the legs or arms.

What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?

A herniated disc can occur in any part of your spine, from your neck to your lower back. However, studies show that the lower back is one of the most common areas for herniated discs. Your spinal column is an intricate network of blood vessels and nerves. A herniated disc exerts excess pressure on the nerves and muscles around it.

The symptoms of a slipped disc usually depend on the severity of the condition. The most common symptoms include:

  • Pain that extends to your arms or legs
  • Pain that worsens at night or with certain movements
  • Pain when walking short distances
  • Unexplained muscle weakness
  • Pain that worsens after standing or sitting
  • Pain and numbness, most commonly on one side of the body
  • Tingling, aching, or burning sensations in the affected area

The severity and type of pain usually vary from person to person. It is important to see your doctor if your pain is accompanied by tingling or numbness that affects your ability to control your muscles.
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