Short term for intervertebral discs, our discs are the spongy cushions that separate our vertebrae, the bones that make the spinal column.
The disc provides shock absorption for the spine, keeps the bones of our spine stable and allows our movement with the vertebrae “pivot points”. That’s why we have a wide range of motion, in all directions, in our lower back and neck.
With two parts, the outer shell and the inner jelly-like elastic substance – also called annulus fibrosis and nucleus pulposus. The first one holds the nucleus within the disc.
In our disc, there’s some points where the vertebrae turn or move, that are called facet joints, that stick out like arched wings on either side of the vertebrae.
These facet joints are separate from the disc, and keep the vertebrae from bend or twist excessively, which could cause a spinal cord injury, leading to problems in the nerves that run through the center of the spinal canal.
As we grow older, our disc changes. The elastic substance – the nucleus pulposus – starts to get more stiff and solid, as part of the aging process. However, it can cause problems, by weakening the outer shell and becoming more likely to cause injuries.
There’s another disc problem that you can face during your life, and we’ll show you some examples. If you’re in pain, don’t overestimate it, and go see a doctor as soon as possible.
What are the most common disc problems?
Our body has 24 spinal disc, and when one of them are not aligned or has a problem, you and experience some of the following symptoms:
- Back pain;
- Difficulty sleeping;
- Inability to work;
- A lot of pain;
- Weak muscles;
- Bad quality of life;
- Among other experiences.
As we said above, some disc problems are caused by injuries and some others can appear as you get older.
Now let’s see some of the most common disc problems.
Degenerative Disc Problem
It can appear as a normal part of your aging process, since your discs naturally deteriorate as you get older, but it’s not necessarily a disease. It’s a condition caused when your damaged discs cause you pain, when the blood supply is low and your discs become unable to repair themselves.
There are some factors and activities that can add an additional weight on the damage of your discs, such as:
- Frequent lifting;
- Poor posture;
- Sports accidents;
- Bending repetitively.
Some of the symptoms you can experience on Degenerative Disc Problem are:
- Numbness and tingling;
- Pain worsening when you sit, bend, lift or twist;
- Weakness in your leg muscles;
- Periods of severe pain;
- Relief from pain when walking or running.
Herniated or Slipped Disc
Maybe the most known disc problem, the herniated, slipped or ruptured disc occurs when the soft material in the inner disc comes out of the outer disc, irritating the nerves around it, causing pain and other symptoms:
- Arm or leg pain;
- Numbness and tingling;
The herniated disc problems are the result of aging and, sometimes, of lifting heavy objects in the wrong way – when you use your back instead of your legs to lift things. It can also happen from accidents.
If you are overweight, work with weight lift or have a family history, you are more likely to develop a herniated disc problem.
There are a few treatments for it, such as acupuncture, massage therapy, medications, yoga and even chiropraxy. Message us to know more.
Having a herniated disc is one of the most common causes of a pinched nerve – even if pinched nerves can occur in the rest of your body. For example, if you have a herniated disc in your low back, it’ll pressure the nerve root, causing radiating pain through your leg.
Some symptoms of pinched nerve:
- Muscle weakness;
- Numbness in areas affected by the nerve;
- Sharp or burning pain radiating;
- Pins and needles sensations.
And can be caused by bone spurs, obesity, repetitive motion, herniated disc problems and other injuries.
This term refers to symptoms involving leg pain along the sciatic nerve in the back of each of your legs. Sciatica is not a condition or a disease itself, but contributes to other medical conditions, such as degenerative disc problems and herniated discs.
The most common symptoms includes:
- Constant pain on one side of your leg and buttock;
- Sitting makes the pain worse;
- Burning and tingling sensation;
- Radiating pain down to the back of one leg that can go to foot and toes;
- Sharp pain and difficulty walking and standing.
What are the treatments for disc problems?
There are a few advended treatment options for disc problems that relieves the pain without surgery.
Search for a doctor who can instruct you properly on how to find a treatment that will work for you. But physical therapies are the best ally you can have to reduce your pain.
Exercising to improve strength, flexibility and fitness, pain-relieving medications (only if they’re prescribed by your doctor), heat treatment and massages can help with the pain.
How to avoid disc problems?
Most of the disc problems heal themselves, but you can avoid having to deal with them with self-help strategies to reduce the risks of further problems – but never forget to go see a doctor to help with suggestions.
- Have a more active life, with an personal exercise routine ;
- Don’t lift objects that are too heavy;
- Be aware of your movements;
- Treat issues like your posture while sitting, standing and walking.
Get yourself a treatment
If all the tips we gave you above don’t work, it’s best for you if you go see a doctor. They’ll help you find where the pain is coming and the best treatment for your case.
Here at Broadway Chiropractic and Wellness are a qualified team to help you take care of yourself.