A herniated disc is also known as slipped or ruptured disc. It is a fragment of the disc nucleus pushed out of the outer portion of the disc, into the spinal canal through a rupture or tear. It can be found in the cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine (mid back), or in the lumbar spine (lower back). Most commonly, herniation’s occur in the lower back and neck.
The space in the spinal canal is limited which is inadequate for the spinal nerve and the displaced intervertebral disc herniation fragment. Because of this, there is a big tendency for the disc to press on the spinal nerves, which often produces pain, and in some cases may be severe.
There are 7 cervical discs, 12 thoracic discs, and 5 lumbar discs. Located between each vertebrae in the spinal column, the intervertebral discs make up about 1/3 of the spine. The discs serve as the shock absorbers from the everyday wear and tear. They also allow movement in the spine and separate the vertebrae.
The intervertebral disc is a cartilaginous joint. Each disc consists of an outer layer called annulus fibrosis and a soft, jelly-like substance inside, called nucleus pulposus. The disc is made up of proteins called collagen and proteoglycans that attract water.
The discs normally compress when there is pressure and decompress when the pressure is relieved. The discs are also avascular, which means they do not have blood vessels to be supplied with nutrients from the blood. Instead, they exchange nutrients through a process called imbibition. Imbibition works similarly to a sponge which when compressed, the water is forced out and sucked back in if the sponge is decompressed. That is how the discs stay healthy and functional.
A herniated disc is usually caused by disc wear and tear. As a person age, the discs lose some of the fluid that helps keep them flexible. Herniation’s also may be a result of spine injuries, which may cause tiny tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. The nucleus may be forced out through the tears or cracks of the annulus, which causes the disc to bulge, break open, or break into fragments. A sudden heavy strain or repetitive activities can cause spine injuries.
A person may feel symptoms depending on what level of the spine the disc herniation occurs. It can cause local pain at the level of the spine affected. If it is large enough to exert pressure on the adjacent nerves, this can cause shooting pain on the body part where the nerve is distributed and it usually occurs on one side of the body. Sciatica is an example for this case, where a person feels shooting pain down the buttock into the back of the thigh and down the leg because the disc herniation occurs between the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae.
If the disc herniation is extremely large, it can press on spinal nerves on both sides of the body, resulting in severe pain down on both lower extremities. This presents weakness of the lower extremities and even bowel or bladder incontinence. This condition is known as cauda equina syndrome.
In the past, it was thought that herniated discs cannot be treated without surgery. A patient with back pain caused by herniated disc could look forward only to expensive major spine surgery for relief. But now, a new revolutionary therapy has been finally introduced to alleviate the pain without surgery and medications.
Spinal decompression is the most recent form of non-surgical therapy that provides back pain relief by reducing the pressure on the nerves exerted by a herniated disc. During this procedure, by cycling through distraction and relaxation phases and by proper positioning, a spinal disc can be isolated and placed under negative pressure, creating a vacuum effect within. Pressure on the structures that may be causing pain can be relieved by static, intermittent, and cycling decompressive forces combined.
Not only spinal decompression minimizes pressure and restores proper position, it also restores proper nutrient supply to the disc. When the herniated disc is pulled back into its original position, it also pulls the oxygen, fluids, and nutrients which are essential to heal the disc.
Symptoms in the majority of patients who have been treated with spinal decompression have significantly improved after a period of treatment. Remedy through decompression therapy may be able to help you experience less suffering and more improvement in the quality of your everyday living.
Sugarloaf Spine and Rehab Center in Lawrenceville GA offers non-surgical spinal decompression to help eliminate low back pain and other problems caused herniated discs. To learn more about spinal decompression Lawrenceville GA, call or visit us today or go to www.gentledr.com now.
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