The human spine is composed of 24 bones which are called vertebrae. These vertebrae are connected by a series of ligaments and muscles, which make up the spinal column. Inside the spinal is a bundle of nerves which sends signals throughout the body. This bundle of nerves is called the spinal cord. When any of the elements of the spinal column malfunction or become unbalanced, it can cause serious problems throughout the rest of the body.
One of the most common back disorders that adults today face is mild disc herniation. Spinal discs are the soft cushions in between each vertebra of the spine. They are sometimes referred to as the shock absorbers of the back because they help to absorb pressure and impact to the spine. When a spinal disc is in its normal position, it sits between two vertebrae and does not hang over the sides or protrude in places.
When a spinal disc becomes herniated, the disc ruptures. The gel-like core of the disc then leaks out of place. This can happen for any number of reasons. One of the leading causes of disc herniation, particularly in adults between the ages of 30 to 50 is simply aging. As the body grows older the spinal discs begin to lose some of their water content and become less flexible. The more rigid the discs become, the more likely they are to rupture.
Disc herniation can occur in varying degrees. Happily, a herniated spinal disc is not automatically cause for concern. The problems with a herniated disc come about when the slipped disc puts pressure on the nerves of the spinal column. This can cause a number of symptoms including sharp, shooting pain in the arms and legs, weakness or tingling in the arms and legs, and/or numbness and loss of control in the lower extremities.
Treatments for herniated spinal discs vary depending a number of factors, two of which being the severity of the symptoms and the placement of the disc. Other factors that physicians take into consideration which prescribing treatments for disc herniation are the age of the patient and the activity level of the patient.
Those patients whose symptoms are not severe enough to warrant immediate surgery usually are usually prescribed one or more less invasive treatments. One such treatment is activity modification. This form of treatment requires the patient to avoid engaging in activities that aggravate their symptoms. This because many disc herniations can resolve themselves when given the time and opportunity to do so.
Physical therapy is another, very popular, form of treatment for disc herniation. In physical therapy patients perform exercises that build up the muscles of the back, thus providing more to support to the affected areas of the spine. Additionally, many patients find the application of ice and heat to be extremely helpful in relieving muscle spasm and alleviating pain.
Physicians also prescribe patients with herniated discs medication. Depending on the patient’s condition and symptoms, a doctor might prescribe oral steroids, anti-inflammatory medications, and/or powerful painkillers in order to ease the patient’s pain.