by Todd Beartoes

Disc Herniation Picture – A layman may consider the disc herniation picture as Latin and Greek so lets try to compared what disc herniation is all about in words. The human vertebral column or spinal column consists of 33 vertebrae (bones) that run along the human neck connecting the skull to the pelvis. This vertebrae act as a shield for the nerves that come out from the brain and pass through the back into the rest of the body.

The spinal column is composed of discs that are like soft pads between hard bones that make up the spinal column. Inside these discs is a gelatinous substance which does the job of a shock absorber for the spinal column. The main parts of the spinal column are: Cervical (neck – portion behind skull) spine, thoracic (part of the back behind the chest) spine, lumbar (lower back) spine and sacral spine (the part which is connected to the pelvis and is not movable). In the lumbar spine the discs are covered with a thick layer of cartilage (annulus) and an inner gel like substance (nucleus).

A few common terms for Disc Herniation are: Pinched nerves, bulging disc, ruptured disc, radiculopathy, (radiculopathy refers to any disease that affects spinal nerves) sciatica and slipped disk are just to name a few. As the disc degenerates, it’s most likely to herniate that is to say that the inner core extrudes back into the spinal canal.

The spinal disc becomes less elastic due to degeneration and the probability of a rapture increases. Just as when a disk raptures a portion of it would push outside the normal boundary and start bulging out from between the vertebrae. Due to the spinal nerves that are situated pretty close to the edge of the spinal discs the herniated disc poses a risk.

Symptoms of disc herniation: Herniated disk is considered as the most common source of pain in the neck, lower back, arms and legs. Few other symptoms include electric shock like pain, tingling and numbness in the cervical and lumbar region, muscle weakness, loss of bowel or bladder control which is to be handled as medical emergency. Sciatica (a condition wherein a sharp and shooting pain extends from buttocks down the back of one leg) is also a major symptom of disc herniation.

Factors that cause herniated discs: a herniated disk condition may develop either due to an accident or because of repetitive strenuous activities of the back, sudden strain on the back or also can develop gradually due to ageing and degeneration of discs. In the past few years there have been more sports related spinal injuries and C – Spine (Cervical) injuries have caused disc herniation in both contact sports like football, hockey and wresting and also in non contact sports like skiing, diving, surfing and equestrian events.

Diagnosis and treatments of disc herniation: Depending upon the patient’s specific symptoms and physical findings, patients may be advised to undergo spine x-ray, spine CT, spine MRI, and EMG in order to carry our proper diagnosis of herniated disc. Non-Surgical treatment may include rest and activity modification, physical therapy, ice and heat therapy, epidural steroid injections, oral steroid medications and NSAIDs (Non steroidal Anti Inflammatory Drugs).

Surgical treatments may be recommended in the event of significant neurological damages causing loss of function and in cases where conservative non surgical treatments fail to yield desired results. Depending upon the size and position of disk herniation, surgical treatment options may include microdisketomy or laminectomy. Arthroscopic surgery is a minimally invasive surgery that involves use of an arthroscope (a type of endoscope) for examination and treatment of herniated discs.

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