Your spinal disc does a very good job of being your body’s shock absorber when it is working properly. You may well take for granted the fact that you can bend and twist with relative ease while everything is in good working order. However, if your spinal disc becomes damaged by a fall, infection, or a disease such as cancer, you will quickly discover how debilitating it can be to suffer from problems in this area of your body.
In any scenario where you experience common symptoms such as back, disc, or nerve pain, you may well end up visiting a spine and disc center for an assessment and also to learn about your treatment options.
Here is a look at all aspects of spinal disc problems, from an overview of symptoms and diagnosis through to how to get the pain relief you need to deal with this issue in the best way possible.
Understanding what role your spinal disc plays in allowing your body to function
A good starting point would be to understand what your spinal disc is and what it does to help your body to have the level of functionality and flexibility that you probably take for granted until something goes wrong.
Your body has a spinal disc between each of the vertebrae in your spine. There are 24 bones in your vertebra. The best way of describing what your spinal disc does would be to say that it plays the role of a shock absorber in your spinal area. This means you can bend and twist while allowing your spinal disc to take the strain.
Spinal discs are also known as intervertebral discs. They are rubbery, as a result of being filled with a gel-like fluid, hence the ability to create a degree of spinal flexibility.
What are typical spinal disc problems?
The most prevalent spinal disc problem is a ruptured disc. This is also often referred to as a herniated, prolapsed, or slipped disc. When a rupture occurs it is when the gel-like material inside the disc bulges out.
Other typical spinal disc problems include degenerative disc disease. This is when the aging process takes its toll on your body.
You might also suffer problems with your spinal disc after suffering a fall or if you pick up an infection. It can also have an impact if you have a type of cancer that can affect your spine.
What are the symptoms?
It is most likely that if you have spinal disc problems you will experience back and nerve pain.
You will find that the level of intensity of the back pain you experience will depend on which of your discs has been affected. It is the resulting physical changes to your body that will prove to be the catalyst for spinal disc problems. You might also notice that you are experiencing pain in your neck too.
The other common symptom is nerve pain.
This can occur when the affected disc ends up pressing on a nerve. By some margin, the most common nerve pain caused as a result of a disc problem is sciatica. This is where the affected disc applies pressure to the sciatic nerve.
It is usually easy to distinguish sciatic pain because the pain you experience traveling down your leg is sharp and sudden. You might also experience a tingling sensation and a certain amount of numbness.
Identifying the cause of your spinal disc problems
The cause of your spinal disc problem will be driven by what type of problem you are suffering from. You will obviously need to get a professional diagnosis so that you can identify whether your problem is degenerative, or a result of a prolapse, for instance.
Your age will usually be a determining factor in the case of degenerative disc disease. This condition is more likely to surface as you get older.
It is not that easy to pinpoint the exact cause of a prolapsed disc. It can often be a cumulative effect of doing a lot of heavy lifting as part of your job, for example, or if you spend many hours each day sitting for long periods.
Carrying out a diagnosis
When you seek a professional medical opinion to get a diagnosis of your spinal disc problems you can expect plenty of questions and a physical examination.
Asking questions about your lifestyle as well as your symptoms will help establish what sort of spinal disc problems you are experiencing and what sort of treatment can be offered.
The physical examination will involve checking the movement of the legs and spine. In addition, it is relevant to check what level of muscle strength you have and how good your reflexes are. The level of flexibility you have will also provide a good guide in helping to diagnose your spinal disc problems.
It may be suggested that you undertake a series of imaging scans, depending on your symptoms. It should be noted that a percentage of people tend to experience improvement in their back pain within a month or so of first noticing a problem. It is worth checking with your doctor or waiting a short while to see if things improve before opting to have a scan unless it is clear that further tests would be immediately beneficial.
There are a number of treatment options available and it could be that a combination of several of these will provide a good level of relief.
You might be prescribed over-the-counter painkillers. It could also be suggested that you try prescription painkillers or even muscle relaxants if you are experiencing muscle spasms.
You can also carry out a variety of self-help techniques such as undertaking regular stretching and movement exercises.
Spinal disc problems can have a negative impact on your health and quality of life but there are plenty of treatment and pain-relief options to consider. Talk to a professional for further guidance if you are suffering persistent back problems that might be related to your spinal disc.