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Herniated Disc


Herniated Disc Q & A

What is a herniated disc?

Pain in your neck, upper back, or lower back can arise due to several factors. Injuries, working at a desk all day, sleeping in the wrong position, and degenerative diseases and conditions can all result in neck and back pain.

Common conditions that cause neck and back pain include:

  • Aging
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Car accidents
  • Overuse injuries
  • Degenerative disc disease
  • Pinched or compressed nerves
  • Sciatica

Poor posture, weak abdominal muscles, and excess body weight can also contribute to neck and back pain.

Can neck and back pain cause other symptoms?

Depending on the cause of your condition, you might experience aching, shooting, or sharp stabbing pain. You might also have nerve symptoms like tingling or pain that travels down your arm or leg.

Conditions that lead to back and neck pain can also cause the following symptoms:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • Limited mobility
  • Decreased function
  • Postural imbalance

You might have constant pain, or it could come and go. Your symptoms might improve with activity and return after periods of rest.

How is neck and back pain diagnosed?

Your neck and spine contain 33 bones called vertebrae. A circular disc made of tough, flexible tissue and filled with gel cushions each vertebra, allowing your spine to bend and twist. Spinal discs have a fibrous outer ring called the annulus, and a gel-filled center known as the nucleus.

When you have a herniated disc, sometimes called a slipped disc, damage to the outer annulus has allowed the inner nucleus to shift out of the disc center. This creates a bulge that can press on the nerves of your spine, causing pain.

Herniated discs are most commonly seen in the lower back and neck, but a disc can herniate along any part of your spine.

What causes a herniated disc?

As you age, the annulus tissue weakens, making it easier for the disc to become displaced. Once the annulus has weakened, it's easy for movements like twisting and bending down from the waist instead of the knees to result in a herniated disc. Poor posture can also cause the nucleus to shift out of place.

Other things that can contribute to a herniated disc include:

  • Improper lifting
  • Spinal injuries
  • Muscle weakness
  • Sedentary lifestyle

If you're overweight, the extra pressure on your spine can lead to a slipped disc. Smokers also have an increased risk of developing a herniated disc.

What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?

The most common symptoms caused by a herniated disc are:

  • Back or neck pain
  • Hip or shoulder pain
  • Pain that moves down your arm or leg
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Muscle weakness
  • Muscle spasm
  • Limited mobility

A herniated disc that compresses the large sciatic nerve in the lower spine is a primary cause of sciatica, inflammation of the sciatic nerve.

How is a herniated disc treated?

Based on where your herniated disc is and what caused it, as well as your health history and other individual factors, the medical team at Elite Physical Medicine designs an integrative treatment plan to address your condition.

Your personalized treatment plan can include:

  • Chiropractic adjustments
  • Therapeutic exercise
  • Massage therapy
  • Joint injections
  • Nerve blocks

Typically, the team recommends a three-part program that includes immediate pain relief, structural healing, and ongoing maintenance.

For fast relief from the discomfort of a herniated disc, call Elite Physical Medicine today, or request an appointment online.

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