The spine is made up of many different components, including the individual vertebrae, or bones, that make up the majority of the spine. The vertebrae are able to work independently of each other because of small discs that are between the vertebrae known as intervertebral discs. These discs work like a type of shock absorber and they allow your spine to twist, move and bend. Unfortunately, the discs may also be injured and when that takes place, pain may result.
A problem with a herniated disc, which is also called a slipped disc, occurs when the intervertebral disc becomes damaged and the jellylike material that is in the middle of the disc begins to protrude from the disc itself. This may be a contained problem, in which a bulge forms on the side of the disc. It can also be uncontained. In either case, when the disc herniates, it could result in pressure that is pressed against one of the nerves in the area that could lead to a problem with pain and the other symptoms that are often a problem.
What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
The symptoms that could occur with this problem may vary from one individual to another. If the disc material is not touching the nerve, it may be possible that you won't have any noticeable symptoms at all. More than likely, however, you will have various issues that can include pain that is either in the direct area or may radiate out to other areas of the body. In addition, tingling, numbness and weakness may also be felt in the area or surrounding areas.
It is important to have the proper diagnosis for a herniated disc, because the symptoms may be very similar to what could occur if you had a muscle strain. Part of the diagnosis of this issue is going to be a medical exam that will take place in our offices. During the exam, your medical history will be considered and in some cases, it may be able to further diagnose the problem.
Taking a closer look at the bones, discs and muscle tissue in the area may also provide further evidence of the problem that you are experiencing. X-rays are a common type of diagnostic procedure that shows both the bones and the space between the bones. A CT scan or MRI may also be considered, because they provide a more detailed overview of what is taking place, including showing the intervertebral discs, which are part of the soft tissue. A bone scan and electrodiagnosis may also help to diagnose the problem further.
The treatment for a herniated disc is going to vary from one person to another and your doctor will discuss the details behind the treatment with you personally. Like any soft tissue of the body, a herniated disc can heal on its own but it may take quite some time before it is able to do so. Your doctor may recommend that you take certain medications to help reduce inflammation, which may also help with the pain that you are experiencing. Various types of physical therapy may also be recommended to help strengthen the muscles and to provide additional support for the disc.