What You Should Know about Spinal Disc Herniation

What is a Spinal Herniation or Herniated Disc?

While many people will refer to spinal herniation as “slipped” discs. This can be confusing term and don’t properly describe what has happened in this potentially painful condition. To shed some light on this matter, it is important to first know a bit about the anatomy of the spine.

In the following article you will find a basic overview of spinal anatomy that can lead to a better understanding of herniated discs.

What is a Spinal Disc?causes and treatment for herniated discs

The spine and back bone are crucial to the support and mobility of the body and are made up of a series of vertebral bone segments that move and twist with the motion of the body. In between each of these bone segments is a spinal disc that works like the cushioning between these bones and allow for smooth painless movement.

The spinal discs also absorb the shock transmitted through the body when running and jumping and play an essential role in the posture and proper curvature of the spine.

The intervertebral discs are perfectly designed for the important task they perform. While they are especially strong, they are also graceful and fluid allowing for heavy loads to be lifted with grace and ease.

Forming the exterior wall of each disc is a tough cellular tissue that looks a bit like the rings of a tree and is named as such –– the annulus fibrosus. This exterior wall serves a couple of important purposes.

  • First, it provides the essential strength that allows the disc to function properly.
  • Second, it protects the delicate interior of the disc from losing its vital moisture.

This interior part of the disc is called the nucleus pulposus and is made of a soft gel-like substance.

It is the nucleus pulposus that performs the important work of absorbing the shocks transmitted through the skeletal structures. It also provides the capacity to move smoothly and retains the vital moisture that allows each disk to perform its function optimally.

It is interesting to know that at the beginning of the day, the nucleus pulposus is full of moisture. As the day progresses and the back and spine applied to a variety of activities the moisture levels decrease. When we sleep, these levels are restored in preparations for a new day.

And what then is a Herniated Disc?

A disc will become “herniated” due to a variety of conditions that can affect the function and fabric of the disc itself.

While your spinal disc will not actually “slip” from its position, it can become ruptured, bulged or otherwise damaged. These conditions can alter the shape and function of a disc in its position.

Not all herniated discs become ruptured, and those that have not are often referred to as “prolapsed discs” because they can bulge from their proper position. These are also called slipped discs, even though nothing has actually slipped.

If the annulus fibrosus has become torn, the condition is called a ruptured disc. If the rupture has caused some of their protective contents into the body through a hole in the protective annulus fibrosus, the condition is called an extruded or sequester disc.

What are the Causes of Disc Herniation?

The primary cause of disc herniation can be attributed to natural degenerative processes of the body. While none of us like to think about it, the body will naturally begin drying out the discs of the body as we get older, leaving us more susceptible to herniation.

This natural process may happen in someone’s 40s or 50s, although some will begin to experience this much earlier. This degenerative condition has been called DDD (Degenerative Disc Disease) but this is also a misnomer because it is not actually a disease in the true sense of the word. Actually, it is a condition of aging that can cause pain and discomfort.

As the nucleus pulposus begins to lose its moisture and recover it, the balance of the disc is thrown off and the degeneration of the disc has begun. When this condition sets in, it is only natural for the spinal discs to develop a variety of bulges and issues that can affect the integrity and function of each individual disc.

Often times, the disc will develop herniation that are not even detectable unless found with advanced spinal imaging. But, at other times a spinal herniation can be caused by the sudden application of force or a certain movement that places pressure on a weakened or possibly slightly herniated disc and the results can be more serious.

A rule of thumb to keep in mind is that this: the greater the force applied to the disc and the health conditions of the spine will result in the severity of the herniation. If the force was considerable and the conditions of the spinal disc were poor, the pain could be very bad and require more time to heal properly.

It is not uncommon for those involved in a traffic accident to assume their herniation were caused in the accident itself, but there is a possibility that the herniation existed for years before the accident.

While experts are still not sure exactly what causes herniation, it is generally believed that the function of the back and the constant pressure applied to these important discs is largely to blame for herniation and slow attrition.

Ok, so why do herniated discs hurt?

This is a good question. There are actually no nerve endings in any of the discs that could be experiencing pain directly. There have actually been many hypotheses as to why these conditions can cause mild to severe pain, but none have been established as the ultimate reason for disc herniations and pain.

One possible reason is that the spinal columns houses nerves that relay messages to all parts of the body. If a nerve were to become contacted or pinched by a bulging or herniated disc, the pain in that part of the body could be severe.

The Enemies Of Your Back

The leading causes of low back pain are the result of too much or inappropriate stress on the spine. By identifying the enemies of your back, you will be better armed against unpleasant surprises.

What are the causes of back pain?

Often considered the “evil of the century,” back pain affects almost everyone (more than 90% of the population). What are the most common causes of back pain? The point with Guy Roulier, osteopath, and Dr. Charley Cohen, a rheumatologist.

Summary

  • The leading causes of back pain
  • Back pain: women-specific causes
  • Secondary causes of back pain
  • Some tips to guard against back pain

The leading causes of back pain

Difficult to give a simple explanation for these pains because there is a bundle of possible reasons. Among the most common reasons:

  • Unusual stresses of the column. A heavy load to carry, a move, a long drive can cause the classic “lumbago” or the appearance of pain most often in the lumbar (lower back).
  • Bad posture repeated, at the office or by car (stay in a sitting position with a round back, head bowed) and inappropriate gestures. “The vast majority of pain is related to poor use of the spine or caused by stress, “says Dr. Charley Cohen.
  • A sedentary lifestyle: the lower the back muscles, the lower the risk of suffering from low back pain. It is, therefore, essential to exercise, to stretch, to walk, to strengthen the abdominal muscles.
  • Stress and burnout. The famous popular expression “to have your back ” speaks for itself …
  • A lack of hydration: taking care to drink enough water can properly hydrate the muscles and intervertebral discs (composed of 80% water).
  • An unbalanced diet or too rich in meat, fat, sugar does not fight against inflammation. On the contrary, we should favor fruits and vegetables, Omega 3 “Think also vitamin D which promotes the maintenance of good bone and plays a role in reducing pain, ” says Dr. Charley Cohen.
  • A lousy sleep, caused by infested bedding (mattress too hard or too soft), a short position or bad habits.
  • The osteoarthritis of the column which may appear to quarantine related wear “natural” spine. It can manifest as pain or remain silent.

The overweight which constitutes a factor of osteoarthritis and causes back pain

Neglect: It is not desirable to get used to the pain. A small inflammation or lesion left unmentioned can become more severe and eventually lead to other problems. “A microlesion will cause friction of the joint which eventually can cause osteoarthritis, tendon wear, disc fissure, fibrosis, sciatica …” says Guy Roulier, osteopath.

Back pain: women-specific causes

While low back pain seems to be shared, women suffer more from neck pain and low back pain for a variety of reasons:

  • The pregnancy;
  • Wearing high heels;
  • Anatomical specificities: chest, arch of the back more marked;
  • Greater sensitivity to stress
  • A more pronounced predisposition to depression or fibromyalgia causes pain in the end.
  • Secondary causes of back pain
  • Pain in the back may be symptomatic of a specific disease such as:
  • The fibromyalgia with diffuse pain and unexplained;
  • The osteoporosis;
  • Infection or tumor
  • Dental malocclusion;
  • Spondylitis or psoriatic arthritis;
  • An ulcer in the stomach;
  • A kidney stone.

Some tips to guard against back pain

If your professional activity is sedentary, remember to move regularly: ” People who have shift work should get up and make movements every 30 minutes to stretch, relax the muscles and allow the microcirculation to happen “, says Guy Roulier, osteopath against stress and overwork, adopt a  relaxation technique such as sophrology, meditation. Take the time to relax. If you can, get a massage regularly.

Muscle your back: preferably practice sports such as swimming or gymnastics that promotes sheathing, abdominals, stretching (Pilates, Yoga). The brisk walk, the paddle, some martial arts ( tai chi chuan, qi gong) are also recommended. However, avoid sports that cause risks of falling: skiing, rugby, horseback riding, cross-country cycling.

Stretch each day and be sure to hydrate yourself: “Between morning and evening, we lose 2 cm in height due to dehydration of the intervertebral discs,” says Guy Roulier.

Adopt the proper postures: bend your knees when you go down to pick up an object, keep your back straight, stretch frequently, avoid hyperextensions of the column.

When you drive a long way, stop every 1 hour 30 minutes or 2 hours from walking, doing some stretching, and hydrating yourself.

Change bedding if your mattress is not adequate.

Sleep on your side or your back. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

If you are prone to lumbar pain, consider wearing a lumbar belt for handwork, driving, or when you have to make repetitive gestures. This allows distributing the load on all intervertebral discs better.

If you have suffered from scoliosis, flat feet, do a regular check-up with an osteopath or specialist to avoid or slow the onset of osteoarthritis over time.

Finally, in case of pain, do not wait to consult your doctor.

Stress And Back Pain

Many of us complain of back pain: A pain that could be directly related to stress.

The physical consequences of chronic stress

Stress is the response or adaptation of the body to a threat or constraint. During evolution, this natural phenomenon has been essential for survival. But when it becomes necessary and chronic, stress can disturb our balance more sustainably, causing mental or physical symptoms, especially at work with sometimes extreme cases leading to burn-out.

But more often, these psychic tensions resound on our body, the muscles of the back and the neck, two sensitive zones, are wrinkled and become painful. Many studies largely confirm these links: the physical constraints, but also the stress, the professional dissatisfaction, and the anger contribute to favor of the occurrence and the frequency of lumbar pains.

Also, low back pain can go hand in hand with anxiety or depression, but we do not know which causes the other. It is sometimes difficult to see if it is stress that causes pain or if it is a chronic pain that contributes to the development and maintenance of stress and negative emotions

Stress And Postural Disturbances

Some physical professions are more exposed than others to back pain, including sedentary occupations. But regardless of the constraints of each job, stress will worsen the situation, favoring postural disturbances. As indicated by Arnaud Foisy, chiropodist-posturologist, the various researches show that the anxiety subjects are more “unstable “than the others. Instability correlated in particular to lumbar or cervical pain.

According to several studies, anxious-depressive states or hyper reactivity are more often associated with asymmetrical postures, leading more quickly to the development of muscle contractures and pains.

Stress: How To End With Back Pain?

Stress is inevitable, mainly when it depends on factors that can not be controlled. But we can better understand it, learn to manage it. When low back pain and stress intermingle, medico-psychological care must be global and multidisciplinary.

Analgesics Can Not Solve Everything

Several recent studies have concluded that most analgesics (including paracetamol) are ineffective in the treatment of back pain and that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) do not reduce pain or improve function. A placebo, not to mention the side effects of some medicines. The College of American Physicians has published a guide to recommendations of good clinical practice that advises, in case of back pain, to resort to non-drug treatments such as cognitive-behavioral therapy or mindfulness meditation. The guide also recommends the use of physical or postural therapies such as physiotherapy, massage, osteopathic manipulations, acupuncture, physical exercise, tai chi, yoga, and balance control exercises. Some movement.