Symptoms, causes, effects, diagnosis, treatment and prevention- we help you understand all of this.
A human being’s spinal column consists of 26 small bones, also called vertebrae, that are supported by disks. When you perform everyday movements like walking, jumping, lifting and twisting, a pressure is applied on these vertebrae. The disks cushion the vertebrae and absorb the shocks created while performing these activities. Every disk consists of two parts. The first is a mushy, gelatinous inner portion and the second is a tough outer ring that surrounds the entire vertebrae. When an injury occurs that causes the inner soft portion to bulge out through the outer ring, a herniated disk or slipped disk occurs.
This condition can cause a tremendous amount of pain and discomfort to the patient. If the herniated disk presses against any of the spinal nerves, the patient can experience numbness and intense pain along the affected nerve. When this happens, the patient might need to opt for surgery to take out or repair the herniated disk.
Symptoms of a herniated disk
Any part of the spinal cord can experience a herniated disk, right from the neck to the lower back. The most common area that can be effected by the condition is the lower back. The spinal column is a close nit collection of blood vessels and nerves and if a herniated disk occurs, a lot of extra pressure is put on the nerves and muscles around the injury. Pain is the most common symptom and any intense discomfort needs to be checked as soon as possible. The kind of pain experienced can differ from person to person. But, if any symptoms persists, it is best to consult a physician to check what is amiss. The other symptoms of a herniated disk include:
Causes of a herniated disk
As explained earlier, a herniated disk occurs when the inner soft center of the disk protrudes out of the outer ring. The outer ring becomes weaker as one ages and allows the inner portion to slip out sometimes. According to the Mayo Clinic, folks between 35 and 45 years of age are more prone to having a herniated disk because the disks lose their protective water content as age progresses and this is more common among men than in women.
Moving in certain ways can also make one prone to a slipped disk. Many people have twisted or turned to carry a heavy object and caused a disk to slip out of place. Lifting heavy goods can put a large strain on the lower back and result in the condition. People with physically demanding jobs that require heavy lifting are at increased risk of developing the condition. Being overweight does not help this cause at all because the disks need to support the additional weight in addition to providing support to the vertebrae. Also, if a person maintain a sedentary lifestyle, they can develop weak muscles which can play a part in developing a herniated disk.
Effects of a herniated disk
If a severe case of a herniated disk is left untreated, it can lead to permanent nerve damage. In some rare cases, the slipped disk can also stop providing signals to the cauda equina nerves which are present on the legs and the lower back. When this happens, the patient can lost bowel and bladder control.
Saddle anesthesia is another long-term effect of an untreated slipped disk. In these cases, the patient loses sensation in the inner thighs, the back of the legs and around the rectum because of excessive pressure on the nerves surrounding the injury.
Discover top tips for a healthy body and mind with our weekly wellbeing newsletter.
Join our mailing list today.