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A Guide to Herniated Discs

Vertebral discs are what provide cushioning between each of the spinal column’s 33 vertebrae, acting primarily as a shock absorber and also as ligaments that hold the vertebrae together. A disc’s anatomy is composed of a fibrous, tough outer layer surrounding a gelatinous inner layer. As one can imagine, these discs are subjected to a lot of pressure during a normal day’s movements, and any disruption in the alignment of the spine can further intensify that pressure. This is what is known as herniated discs.

When a disc is caused to bulge outside of its normal area it causes pain by exerting pressure on nearby nerves. A bulging disc can also tear or rupture, becoming what’s referred to as non-contained or herniated discs and a portion of the inner gelatinous layer leaks into the spinal canal. Herniated discs can occur in any part of the back and are often caused by degeneration from the normal aging process, heavy lifting, twisting motions or trauma. It is important to get treatment for your herniated discs as soon as you can to prevent more back pain.

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A cervical herniated disc (upper back) may cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort in the arms
  • Shooting pain in the arms
  • Numbness or weakness in the arms
  • Burning pain in the arms

A lumbar herniated disc (lower back) may cause any of the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort in the legs, ankles or feet
  • Shooting pain in the legs
  • Numbness or weakness in the legs
  • Leg pain that is worsened by sitting

Herniated Disc Treatments

  • Spinal surgery
  • Medication
  • Physical therapy (chiropractic therapy) stretching
  • Heating pads

Before determining which is the right herniated disc treatment option, speak to a spine specialist for a more accurate diagnosis of your injury.

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