Disc Herniation and Disc Bulges
A healthy working spine is essential to a healthy, pain free life and lifestyle. Sometimes the discs that support and cushion your vertebrae get damaged, leaving you with debilitating pain. You do not have to live with this pain.
Doctor Alex Landfield at Kentucky Neurology and Rehab in Lexington, Kentucky is experienced with treating the causes of disc related pain. We incorporate Neurology disciplines to treat and correct your disc herniation, damaged disc or vertebrae problem. We will find the specific disc that is causing pain and work to improve the spine, spinal joint function and alleviate discomfort.
Spinal Vertebrae: Your spinal column is made up of 24 vertebrae. The joints between each individual vertebra are what enable your body to move and bend. They are used in every movement of your body as you work, play and live. These bones encase and protect your spinal column, which holds your all-important central nervous system that keeps your body working.
Spinal Discs: Between each vertebrae there are discs which work as cushions or shock absorbers between each bone. They keep the bones in the spine from grinding against each other. Discs also give the spine flexibility making twisting and bending possible, and protect the spine by absorbing the impact of trauma and supporting your body weight. Ligaments that hold these joints together can become damaged, or the discs themselves can rupture, bulge or tear.
When a disc herniates it pushes into the spinal canal where your nerves are housed. This causes compression on the nerves of the central nervous system in the spinal column. This is why the pain is so great. The pain can be completely debilitating and other nerve sensations like extreme tingling and numbness can occur. The gel inside the aggravated disc also releases chemicals that cause pain.
Your Discs are:
- Made of collagen to be flexible
- Have a tough outer core
- Have a soft gel like inner core
- Contain water but lose water over time, providing less cushion
Disc Dysfunction: When two or more discs aren’t working properly together this is a disc misalignment is known as subluxation. These joint dysfunctions cause a great deal of pain, and can cause you limited mobility. Great discomfort can come from herniated or bulging discs because the pain comes from close trauma to the nerves in your spinal column. This can also cause mixed nerve messages and increase pain throughout the body.
Types of Disc Damage We Treat:
- Bulging Disc: A contained disc disorder (intact disc) that bulges or protrudes and pushes into the spinal canal.
- Herniated Disc: This is a non-contained disc disorder (a leaking damaged disc) where the disc has ruptured and the fluid is leaking out. The fluid irritates the surrounding spinal cord tissues and aggravates the nerves. When nerves are exposed to fluid they swell and cause pain. Pieces of the disc can also break of into the spinal canal.
- Ruptured Disc: Non-contained discs are ruptured discs that also may protrude into another area of the spine, leaking their fluid and causing havoc.
- Lumbar Disc Herniation (lower back): The majority of herniated discs occur in the lower back or lumbar region. When one of these discs press on a nerve you will experience radiating pain numbness and weakness in the buttock, leg and foot.
- Cervical Disc Herniation: Neck disc herniation cause numbness and radiating pain down your arms and into the wrists and hands. You may experience shoulder pain and muscle weakness in the arms and hands. Delayed reflexes are also common.
Causes of Herniated Discs:
Discs in your spine are filled with fluid. These gradually lose volume as we age. You begin to lose spinal fluid volume at age 30 and then progresses as you get older. In essence, your discs dry out and this makes this vulnerable to injury and damage. As they dry out discs get tiny cracks and tears on their surface. This makes them brittle and weak, leading to disc herniation or what you may have heard referred to as ‘slipped discs’.
Common causes are:
- Wear and tear: Discs dry out which makes them less flexible
- Repetitive movements: The same movements over and over put stress on the spine and can weaken the lower back. Situations that can cause disc problems are:
- Work situations that require repetitive motions
- Lifestyles that cause you to do the same motions over and over
- Repetitive action from sports activities
- Lifting the wrong way: If you lift heavy objects from when you are bent at the waist can move a disc out of position and cause a herniated disk
- Traumatic Injury: Trauma from a high impact event like a car accident or fall can crush or knock a disc out of place
- Obesity: Carrying excess weight puts strain on your spine
- Genetics: Degenerative discs may be part of your genetic makeup
Herniated Disc Symptoms:
Pain may be mild to severe and can change with movement. The severity of pain depends on the severity of the damage to the disc, its location and the type of disc damage. You may feel pain only on one side of your body. If the injury is minor you may feel little pain. If the disc ruptures, pain can be unrelenting. Because the herniated disc involves your spinal column, you may feel radiating pain all the way to your hands and feet. This pain will travel the length of the nerve, ending in the area of your damaged disc. Symptoms include.
- Dull, aching pain
- Severe, unrelenting and radiating pain
- Numbness, tingling, burning
- Muscle spasms
- Muscle weakness
- In emergency situations, loss bowel or bladder control
Better spinal function is our goal and we can get you back to your regular lifestyle. Treatments range from regular adjustments and rehabilitation to disc repair.