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A diagnosis of a herniated disc indicates where a disc's inner material has pushed through torn fibers in the disc against the outer wall creating the herniated disc. Due to the anatomy of the spine and close proximity to the spinal nerves, irritation or compression of the nerve root can occur.
The degree of the herniated disc can affect whether the patient experiences just pain and numbness in the limb or actual muscle weakness of the muscles supplied by the nerve. A familiar term of "sciatica” can result from a herniated disc in the lower back, giving symptoms down the back of the leg.
Many people confuse the terms herniated disc with the term bulging disc. These are actually two completely different injuries and require different treatments. While bulging discs are contained and do not rupture the discs outer layer, a small bubble extends into the spinal canal. Herniated discs, on the other hand, are not contained. They put so much pressure on the disc wall that it ruptures, and creates the condition known ad a herniation.
Herniated Discs can be hard to diagnose, simply because pain caused from a disc herniation can send waves of pain throughout the body. Pain varies from mild to severe and can be felt in a variety of places in the body which include the arms, legs, back, and neck.
A slipped disk is another way of describing and herniated disc. Spinal discs don't really "slip" in and out of place. But it may feel that way if there is a disc issue.
The treatment for less severe herniated disc can include physical therapy to address core stability, flexibility, posture, ergonomics, and pain. Injections to decrease inflammation that leads to pain can also be given, which can help resolve symptoms in a lot of cases.
A larger herniation that compresses the nerve with resulting muscle weakness or a herniation where symptom resolution can’t be achieved conservatively may require surgery by an orthopedic specialist. A procedure known as a “discectomy” is performed to remove the part of the disc pressing on the nerve.
Maintaining good body mechanics, core stability and flexibility in conjunction with a healthy weight, are all factors that contribute to a healthy spine and can help prevent a herniated disc.
If you are experiencing back pain but these symptoms do not match your own, you may have a different injury. Read the following articles to get a better understanding of what your injury may be:
If you are still unsure of whether you have a herniated disc, this video on herniated discs may help you get a better idea.
By: Ehren Allen, DPT/Certified Manual Therapist
To schedule physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045.
If you believe you are suffering from a herniated disc or other back related injury, schedule an appointment with one of our orthopedic spine specialists by clicking the link below, schedule online or by calling (904)JOI-2000.