The spinal cord is one of the most important parts of the human body. It may be described as the systemic mainstay, courtesy of its ability to coordinate several reflexes in the body. However, when the spinal discs suffer a form of concussion, a sense of discomfort creeps in.
Ask the one who has gone through a condition -- for instance, a slipped disc -- and you will know the agony associated with it. At least 1 out of 8 people suffer from back-related troubles; slipped disc, being one of them, is extremely painful.
The spinal column, predominantly constitutes fused vertebrae and spinal discs. The latter are doughnut-shaped structures that have a jelly-like substance encased within a hard exterior. They are present between adjacent vertebrae, acting as shock-absorbent structures that protect the vertebrae from bumping into each other, thereby preventing premature wear and tear. A misnomer of sorts, the term slipped disc does not involve any discs "slipping" from its position. A more appropriate term for slipped disc is ruptured disc. It may be called herniated or prolapsed disc, too. Under excessive pressure, a spinal disc may split or rupture, consequently leading to the "jelly-like" constituent to seep out. This puts pressure on the surrounding tissues, which can be the spinal column, or a nerve in proximity. It causes pain in the lower back, arms, and legs. Most often, this problem is observed in the lower back (lumbar) region as well as in the neck (cervical) region. Sometimes, it causes what is called, referred pain in the organs far away from the actual site of the injury. Nerves, connecting to different organs of the body, leave the spinal column at each of its levels. Due to this, the organs that experience referred pain depend on the location of the ruptured spinal disc.
What Causes It
- The occurrence of this condition is due to the connective tissues enduring a breakdown. Although the reasons that cause this cessation may not be accurately defined, an advancing age, often is held responsible for the condition. As age progresses, the quality of hydrating the spinal discs reduces, making the spine less responsive to flexible movements, thereby increasing the probability of a rupture. Eventually, there is age-associated degeneration and loss of elasticity that restrict free movement. However, there may be other situations as well that lead to exerting an undue strain to the spine, making it susceptible to the condition.
- An accident that might have caused direct, or indirect pressure on the spinal column may contribute toward aggravating the condition.
- Frequent and improper turning and twisting of the back causes extreme pressure and strain on the spinal column and discs.
- Being overweight may strain your back. It also means that you are not in the state of health you ought to be, thus affecting muscle agility. A band of fat rolling across your stomach may be one of the preliminary signs indicating you must curb that unhealthy gain.
- Smoking is injurious to health, and it, indeed, applies to spinal health as well. Your spinal discs may be restricted from the process of absorbing nutrients that help keep it hydrated, hence flexible. Besides, smokers, often are found to be hyperalgesic; i.e., they develop extreme sensitivity to pain.
- Overexercising or exerting yourself at the gymnasium may not be a welcome change for your body. Tone down the intensity of your workout if you find your body does not consort with the same.
- Stationary jobs that involve devoting a major chunk of your time and effort on the desk may weaken the spinal discs leading to spinal disc herniation.
What Are the Symptoms
- Slipped disc mainly affects the nerves, which in turn causes pain in the back, neck, or lower section of the body.
- Sometimes, a person suffering from prolapsed disc feels partial, or complete numbness in the body parts that are above and below the affected area (in general, in the area controlled by the particular nerve). This without medical intervention may gradually lead to a paralytic condition.
- In some cases, the lower part of the body feels weak, and it becomes almost impossible for the patient to stand.
- The individual suffering may also experience scratchy/itchy (tingling) feeling in the genital area.
- The individual may also experience pain while sneezing, coughing, walking, etc.
- This health condition may cause partial, or regular unconsciousness in the sufferer.
Symptoms that Need Prompt Medical Attention
- Weakness or numbness in one or both lower limbs;
- Loss of agility in one or both legs;
- Severe back pain with traces of blood in the urine;
- Urinary incontinence;
- Throbbing pain targeting the insides of the thigh;
- Back pain that worsens when you are resting as compared to when you are mobile;
- Prolonged weakness with a tingling sensation in spite of resting and adopting domestic interventions.
What Is the Treatment
- Know that pain originating due to a slipped disc will stop all by itself, once the disc ceases to constrict the nerve. The pain during this time could be managed with painkillers.
- Besides, physiotherapy may aid you to feel better. Your consulting physiotherapist would tailor an exercise regimen, exclusively for you, in order to control the condition and prevent future occurrences of the same.
- You may also consult a practicing osteopath, or chiropractor to treat the condition. Both chiropractic and osteopathy believe in manual therapies, i.e., manipulation of muscles and bones through massage and other manual techniques.
- Surgical intervention may be a requirement if other treatments have not yielded the desired results, or have failed to improve the condition. Discectomy is a surgical procedure that aims to withdraw the protuberant discs in order to alleviate pain experienced in the lower limbs. Prosthetic intervertebral disc replacement, another procedure, aims to replace the slipped disc with a prosthetic disc.
What You Can Do
- Know the correct posture that you ought to assume while lifting weights. Try to keep your back straight, and bend from the knees and hip area.
- Try to avoid activities, which might cause direct stress on the back, such as lifting weights, and twisting and turning your back.
- If you are suffering from backache, consult a qualified physician to counteract the problem.
- Take a good back massage.
- Exercise regularly. If you plan to surf the streets by going for a run, ensure that you warm-up. Pain in the wake of a jerk, or faulty movement may lead to herniation of the spinal disc.
- Rest well. It is very important, especially if you spend your day running around for some work, or if you are confined to your desk.
- Take regular breaks from any activity that demands you to stress your back.
- A heating pad may help reduce the pain to a significant extent. If not reduce, they are known to temporarily desensitize or numb the region that is in pain. Cold compression may also have the same effect on the affected region.
- Walk short distances. Covering a span you are comfortable with -- one that does not exert pressure on your back and legs, should help you relax and rehabilitate.
- Quitting the tobacco tube should cost you nothing. Do a good turn to your discs by doing so. The toxins present in a cigarette are potent enough to degenerate the spinal discs, stripping them of the essential nutrients, thereby dehydrating them.
- Manage your weight. Practice yoga, or dedicate sometime to meditation during the day. It, sure would keep your mind and body healthy.
In certain cases, individuals do not observe symptoms, or pain and are not required to respond to the situation by going under the knife. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms aforementioned, you ought to consult a medical professional. It is best to understand what you need to do, in order to achieve quick, yet permanent relief from the pain.
Disclaimer: The article published herein, is meant to accomplish pedagogical purposes only. The recommendations mentioned hereby may not be generically applicable. The information, by no means, intends to supplant the diagnosis and advice imparted by the medical practitioner.