The spinal vertebrae are separated from each other through a soft cartilaginous disc. These discs are avascular, i.e., they do not receive blood supply and function as shock absorbers. The discs and the vertebrae are surrounded by strong fibrous tissues known as ligaments. Sometimes, the disc gets ruptured due to certain reasons. This condition is known as ruptured disc or herniated disc.
Degeneration due to aging is the most common cause for the disc to rupture. Secondly, injury to the vertebra and the disc, wear and tear of the disc, sudden heavy strain or sprain in the lower back, lifting any object suddenly, or twisting of the body, etc., are other prominent causes. As the vertebrae (specially the lower vertebrae) are weight-bearing bones of the body, they are strong as well as sensitive parts of the body. On the other hand, ruptured disc can even be caused due to accident or any injury while performing any sports activities.
Pain (sharp, burning, stabbing) in the area of the rupture is the most significant symptom. It is usually seen between the fourth and the fifth lumbar vertebrae in the lower back. Therefore, lower back pain is also one of the prominent symptoms. You should note that ruptured disc symptoms vary according to the area where the rupture has taken place. For e.g., if the disc of the vertebrae in the upper back has ruptured, you may experience pain in shoulders, arms, chest pain, pain in ribs or near thigh.
On the other hand, rupture in the disc in the lower vertebrae can cause sciatica, leg pain, and lower back pain. Sciatica is caused due to pinching of nerves. The pain caused due to sciatica arises in the lower back and travels to the waist and legs.
- Tingling sensation in the leg
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness in the respective part
- Muscle spasms
The pain caused due to ruptured disc is sharp and intolerable. The rupture of the disc can be seen in X-ray, CT scan, and MRI which will be helpful in diagnosing the condition. Medications and drugs are effective in treating pain. Anti-inflammation medications and injections are also used to alleviate the pain. If the pain and the numbness does not cease within a few days even on taking medication, a surgery may be required. However, surgical procedures are rarely needed. You should remember that complete recovery is possible, but, it takes a lot of time. Alternative treatment for ruptured disc includes physiotherapy and back exercises as they are helpful in treating the pain.
If the symptoms are identified quickly, it will be easier to undertake the treatment. You should be very careful during sports or while bending or lifting any object. Similarly, having regular exercise makes the body and muscles strong and flexible, which will help in preventing injuries and sprains to a great extent.
Disclaimer: This write-up is to be used for information purposes only. It is not to be used as a substitute for doctor's advice.