A herniated disk occurs when the cushions between a person’s vertebrae slip out of place or rupture. The cushions are made up of a jelly-like substance. That substance can leak out into the spine and cause a lot of pain and pressure. The herniated disk can aggravate the nerves and even cause numbness in the back, arms, and legs. Some people have herniated disks and don’t even know it. The condition can be treated to relieve pain and other symptoms.
While a herniated disc can happen to anyone, some people are more likely to experience one. Certain indicators can increase the risk of suffering from such an injury. Some of these risk factors include:
Disk herniation can occur over time or suddenly due to an injury or accident. Sometimes, just twisting or turning the wrong way can cause a herniated disk. With age, the disks start to leak fluid and become easier to damage or herniate. Some other causes of disk herniation include:
Herniated disks usually occur in the lower back, and they can affect the lower extremities. The symptoms of a herniated disk can be different for everyone. Some people experience debilitating symptoms, and others may only notice slight pain or discomfort. Herniated disk symptoms can mimic those of other injuries or back problems, so it can sometimes be hard to determine the real reason for the pain or discomfort. Some common symptoms include:
Because some people don’t experience any symptoms or confuse their symptoms with minor injuries, many herniated disks go undiagnosed. Doctors can use a variety of different tests to diagnose the condition. Some of the tests they use include:
Treatments are usually focused on resting and finding a way to avoid aggravating the injury. Stretching, exercise and pain management are also used. Some treatment options include:
The prognosis for a herniated disk is usually good. Most people recover in a few days. In cases where surgery is necessary, recovery may take longer. Once a person has suffered a herniated disk, they are more likely to experience one again. It is possible to prevent disk herniation with proper lifting techniques and stretching.
Some people may experience complications with a herniated disk. Some of them can be serious, and others may be easily treated. A herniated disk can compress the entire cauda equina in the spine. If not treated, it can cause permanent weakness and paralysis. Some less severe complications that may still require medical treatment include: