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Herniated Discs: Understanding The Symptoms and Causes - Spine Center of Texas
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Herniated Discs: Understanding The Symptoms and Causes

A lot of patients over 50 have come out of their orthopedist’s office with the knowledge that the weakness or numbness or pain that they’ve been experiencing is directly related to the natural progressive weakening of the spine. This could mean that they are developing any one of a number of degenerative spine conditions including spinal disc protrusion and spinal disc herniation also diagnosed by doctors as bulging disc, pinched nerve, ruptured disc or slipped disc, to name a few. It has come to light, however, that Disc Herniation can be experienced by anyone owing to trauma or straining. Weightlifting is one example.

An intervertebral or spinal disc is comprised of a soft jelly-like interior enclosed by a harder exterior called the annulus fibrosus. Herniation is characterized by thepostero-lateral bulging of the soft interior of the intervertebral or spinal disc through the harder outer ring. This is slightly different from a protrusion in which the bulging stops short of breaking the annulus fibrosus thereby preventing the soft interior from escaping.More often than not, the former develops from the latter. Once the chemicals contained in the disc escape, they often proceed to cause inflammations, which are painful even if nerve root compression is nonexistent.

Be that as it may, a lot of herniated discs do not produce any pain. MRI scans have demonstrated that large herniated discs may not produce the sensation of pain. Furthermore, where there is a pain, the magnitude is not directly proportional to how bad the physical damage appears to be. Another thing that is worthy of note is that ligaments, discs, and muscles are all interconnected and, as such, it is far from easy to isolate the cause of discomfort even with the aid of Magnetic Resonance Imaging, X-rays, and CT scans. A herniated disc could cause sensations similar to those produced by torn ligaments and bruised muscles.

Most diagnosed herniated discs eventually heal over time – typically a few weeks – and do not require surgery. Others are managed with the aid of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and physical therapy. Surgery is the last resort with procedures like Artificial Disc Surgery, Spinal Fusion, Laminotomy, Discectomy, and Laminectomy proving to be especially helpful.