There are many different terms that can be used to define a “herniated disc”, such as “pinched nerve”, “bulging disc”, and so forth. In addition, a herniated disc can also occur in the neck and thus, many patients may be concerned or even confused when hearing some of these terms. One of the more common herniated discs, however, is one that occurs in the lower back, specifically in the lumbar region.
Remember, that a person’s spine is composed of several different sections, which are often described like spongy, small sections that are filled with fluid. Our bodies are very complex and these sections of our spine are specifically designed to absorb any kind of shock.
Thus, when you fall or trip, these spongy discs allows your spine to still be flexible. However, when an injury occurs, and a disc is affected, it may be significantly damaged; whether it bulges out or breaks open entirely.
Causes of Herniated Disc
There are many different causes of a herniated disc, and if you suspect that you may have one, the best course of action will be to check with your doctor. With that in mind, there are two common causes of a herniated disc:
- Age: As we get older, our bodies begin to break down naturally. Specifically, the discs in your spine begin to dry out and wear over time. Not only are they not as flexible as they were when you were younger, but they can also outright tear because of age as well.
- Injury: When you suffer an extreme injury, such as through an automobile accident, your discs are not able to recover from the shock, and instead tiny cracks or tears can occur in the hard outer layer. When this occurs, the aforementioned fluid, often described as gel-like, will be forced out through those cracks or tears. In turn, your disc will bulge or break open entirely, giving you a herniated disc.
Herniated discs can be extremely painful because it presses on nerve roots, located in your spine, which are present in your back, often known as a “pinched nerve”. At the same time, when your herniated disc is not pressing again your spine the pain can be minor, with only dull weakness or backache. In addition, as the research points out, at times your herniated disc can also cause sciatica, which is essentially numbness and pain present in your lower back that travels down to one or both legs.
Again, this is largely due to the way your disc presses against nerve endings found in your spine. The pain can range from minor, as mentioned, to very severe and thus, it is important to register your pain so that you can relay this information to your doctor.
If you suspect that you have a herniated disc, it is important to visit your doctor immediately. Your doctor will conduct a physical examination, which may sometimes require some form of imaging of the affected area. Do not be afraid to ask questions and voice your concerns. Typically, herniated discs are treated by rest, anti-inflammatory and pain medications, physical therapy, and in some cases, even surgery.
Please note that X-rays will not show a herniated disc- only more sophisticated tests such as a CT scan or MRI can show a herniated disc.
If you have questions regarding a personal injury claim please call the Baumgartner Law Firm for a no-obligation consultation- (281) 587-1111.