If you’ve ever heard of a herniated disc, you probably know that it can be painful, but you might not know exactly what causes them and why you experience pain. To better explain, think of each spinal disc as a rubbery, jelly-filled doughnut resting between each of the vertebrae that make up your spine.
Also referred to as a ruptured or slipped disc, a herniated disc is usually the result of slow degeneration over time with age, most often capped off by a single event that causes the final stress needed to do the damage, such as lifting heavy objects improperly or an unusual and sudden twisting motion.
As you age, each and every disc starts to lose some of its water content, making it more fragile. Going back to the jelly-filled doughnut analogy, a herniated disc occurs when the softer substance inside leaks or bursts out through a crack or opening in the tougher, rubber exterior.
While this sounds painful, and usually is, it’s also entirely possible to not even notice it in less severe cases, which is why it’s all the more important to get any nagging pains and discomfort checked out as soon as they begin.
Herniated Disc Symptoms
Herniated discs can occur anywhere along the spine, and the symptoms can vary depending on which disc is affected. If the herniated disc is in the neck, you will notice more pain in your upper body, around your shoulders and arms, and the pain is usually made worse by upper body bending or twisting.
For a herniated lumbar disc (in your lower spine), pain can radiate all the way down to your feet. Any tingling or numbness can be a result of nerve damage, as well as sudden and/or worsening weakness in your arms, legs, or back.
Herniated Disc Exercises
The good news is that the painful and uncomfortable symptoms of herniated discs in the neck or back can be relieved without surgery in 90 percent of patients, through a variety of non-invasive treatment methods and exercises.
If you are experiencing herniated disc symptoms, the first thing to do is rest and avoid any strenuous lifting or twisting that can make the situation worse. However, also keep in mind that prolonged bed rest can actually hurt more than help by leading to tight joints and weakened muscles. The key is to find the right balance between resting and light exercises, such as walking or other non-strenuous physical activities.
There are also several specific exercises and movements that Dr. Mohr can walk you through to relieve your symptoms as soon as possible. With the right treatment plan, the amount of leaked “jelly” can actually shrink and you could be completely symptom-free in as little as a month or two.
So if you think you have a bulging or herniated disc in your neck or back, please come in as soon as possible, so we can work together to solve the problem before it gets worse.
Dr. Travis Mohr is continually praised as being the best Chiropractor in Tampa. He is well versed in conservatively treating disc bulges, herniated discs, and sciatica pain. If you would like to schedule your first appointment, please call our office or schedule through our online appointment request form.