When a disc starts to bulge, rupture or slip, it forms a herniated disc. Herniation usually occurs as a result of the inner core of the disc bulging or sliding out of the outer layer of the disc.
A herniated disc may lead to pains in the neck which may spread into the arms. Pains can also be experienced in the back, shoulders, and legs. Other symptoms include numbness and weakness in the legs and the arms. Loss of control over bladder functions can indicate a serious case of herniated disc.
About this Condition
Slipping, bulging or rupturing of a disc is an unusual event which is explained as the herniation. The pain experienced as a result of a herniated disc occurs when the bulging disc starts to put pressure on a spinal nerve. As an effect of this pressure, the region of the body connected to this nerve experiences pain.
A spinal fracture will often result in instability in the vertebral column which will need to be corrected through surgery. It can often have effects such as severe pain, deformity, and neurologic injury. It can occur in any region of the spine.
Degenerative disc disease (DDD) is a condition which results from the aging of the body. As a person grows older, the elastic property, shock absorption property and flexibility property of the intervertebral discs deteriorate. The annulus fibrosis is a collection of fibers which are found around the outer area of the discs. These fibers become brittle with age making them easy to tear and rupture. The core of the discs also starts to shrink simultaneously. This core is known as the nucleus pulposus. Degenerative arthritis of the lower back spine begins to develop as bone spurs are formed, herniation and spine support starts to become brittle.
Everyone undergoes this process with the only difference being the degree to which it affects the body. A degenerative disc may occur in a person without any sensation of pain while there may be pain in other people. Scans have proven that a lot of people who seem to have a normal back also have herniated discs and changes due to disc degeneration. It is important to note that degenerative disc disease may not result in noticeable symptoms in all patients.
Medication and Pain Management
In an attempt to reduce the pain experienced and discomfort, prescription drugs are used.
Some drugs which patients are not likely to get addicted to are used as long-term solutions to reducing pain. Examples of such drugs are naproxen and aspirin. They fall under a category of medications known as Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs). They are drugs which can be purchased without a prescription. Another method is the Opioid therapy. This is used in situations where there is frequent pain which usually occurs for a long time. This method is only used for short periods because patients can get addicted to the drugs used. The drugs can also be toxic to the body.
Physical Therapy / Occupational Therapy
Therapy is important in stopping the pain in the same area from appearing intermittently. By following a rehabilitation program specially crafted by a therapist, recovery from pain is likely to be more successful. Therapy may involve the use of adaptive equipment, manual training, manual therapy and assistive devices to promote healing, increase endurance and improve movement. A rehabilitation program may include electrotherapy as well as cold and heat therapy. These are aimed at building strength, reducing swelling and pains.
A corticosteroid injection is commonly used to reduce swelling and pain. It does this by replicating the functions of the cortisone and hydrocortisone hormones produced in the body. These hormones are produced by the adrenal gland cortex. For the corticosteroid to be effective, the quantity injected has to be higher than the natural level in the body. There are limitations in the use of corticosteroid injections as the side effects from its use are severe.
To perform diagnosis or for therapy, an epidural spinal injection is often administered. It can aid in finding the nerve root which is affected. In therapy, it can help in serving as a pain relief. It can be a short-term relief or a long-term relief.
METRx Minimally Invasive Hemilaminectomy
A hemilaminectomy is a surgery that is performed in the lumbar region of the spine. It can serve as a solution to pain in the leg and the back. This is achieved by reducing the pressure on the nerves in the spine of the lower back after the removal of a part of the lamina on a vertebra.
This type of surgery is performed to extract the part of the herniated disc which is pressing against any nerve root. It is carried out using a microscope or an endoscope.
A Laminectomy is a surgery which is performed to create extra room. To create this extra room, parts of the lamina which surround the nerve roots are removed. By doing so, the pressure against the nerve roots is also reduced.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion
When performing an Anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, the surgery involves making a tiny cut on the front of the neck where it forms a crease. Through this cut, the intervertebral disc can be extracted to provide an easy means to penetrate further to neural bodies. A bone graft is then used to fuse the adjacent vertebrae. This covers the space created by removing the disc. An artificial disc can also be placed, and instrumentation is used to provide support to the spine. The entire process eliminates the pressure from the herniated disc.