Herniated Disc Symptoms, Treatment & Recovery
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc is a type of back injury, commonly caused by overexertion and accidents.
Herniated discs are extremely painful and can potentially lead to long-term debilitation.
It's often known as a slipped disc
A herniated disc (also sometimes known as a 'slipped disc') refers to damage sustained by the rubbery substance located between each vertebra.
Every human spine has 23 discs, extending from the top of the neck down to the lower back.
Spinal discs help protect your back by absorbing the stresses involved with everyday movement, such as walking, sitting and bending.
Spinal discs are prone to rupturing
Since they are comprised of a soft rubbery substance, spinal discs are prone to rupturing.
When a rupture occurs, it can put pressure on the nerves located in the spinal cord, causing discomfort.
The Difference Between a Herniated Disc and a Bulging Disc
Herniated discs and bulging discs are classified as separate injuries.
Herniated discs are non-contained, meaning the disc tissue has been torn or ruptured.
This causes a gel-like matter to leak into the spinal column.
Conversely, bulging discs are isolated.
Many herniated discs start out as bulging discs.
A small portion of the disc may protrude into the spinal cavity, but no tear or rupture is present in its outer layer.
Common Causes of a Herniated Disc
Most herniated discs are triggered by physical overexertion, accidents or wear and tear.
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a herniated disc in some cases, as the pain associated with this type of injury often develops gradually.
However, many spinal injuries can be traced back to some form of physical activity, such as picking up a heavy object with poor lifting technique.
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Coping with Herniated Disc Pain
Herniated disc pain can be excruciating. It frequently spreads from the back into other parts of the body, including the legs, shoulders and arms, and can make basic physical movements difficult.
For less severe herniated disc injuries, avoiding physical activity for a number of weeks can be effective for pain management.
Over-the-counter medications, physical therapy and heat packs can also help, but surgical intervention may be needed if the pain doesn’t subside.
Can a Herniated Disc Heal On Its Own?
Yes, a herniated disc can heal on its own.
The body’s natural immune response helps reduce the size of the herniation, although you must avoid strenuous physical activity for this process to take place.
Does physiotherapy help a herniated disc?
Some forms of physiotherapy can also help shift the disc back into its original position.
Even if your symptoms subside, you shouldn’t assume that your injury has completely healed.
The pain may reappear over time, especially if you resume the activities that caused the herniation in the first place.
When to See a Doctor for a Herniated Disc
Always seek medical advice if you experience any discomfort in your back lasting longer than a few days.
Herniated discs can worsen if not treated in a timely manner, prolonging the recovery process. Even if your symptoms are mild, don’t wait for them to get better on their own.
Factors that Increase the Risk of a Herniated Disc
A range of factors can increase the risk of disc herniation.
Weight gain – Excess weight can place an unsustainable amount of stress on the spinal discs, especially in the lower back region.
Smoking – Over time, the toxins found in cigarettes can reduce blood flow to the spinal discs, encouraging disc degeneration.
Age – Spinal discs tend to lose elasticity as we get older, making them less able to absorb stress.
A physically demanding occupation – Jobs that involve lots heavy lifting are linked with high instances of disc herniation.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding physical overexertion is the best way to minimise these risks.
Herniated Disc Diagnosis
There are several diagnostic tests that can be used to confirm a herniated disc.
Physical examination – Your doctor can use this procedure to look for limitations in your range of movement, numbness in your arms and legs and other typical characteristics of disc herniation.
Imaging tests – CT scans, MRIs and X-rays are all able to detect a herniated disc.
Herniated Disc Surgery
Surgery can be used to treat a severe or chronic herniated disc. By undergoing a surgical procedure known as a discectomy, the injured person can have a portion of their ruptured disc removed. This can help relieve the pressure on the spinal nerves and any corresponding pain.
The entire disc may need to be removed if a large enough rupture has occurred.
Herniated Disc Recovery Time
Recovering from a herniated disc can be a lengthy and complicated process. The recommended recovery time for a mild herniated disc is around 6 weeks, but a severe herniation can take longer to heal.
The duration of your recovery will depend on the size of the herniation and the location of the affected disc. Following the advice of your doctor will ensure you can recover from a herniated disc as quickly as possible.
Is Physical Therapy Required for Herniated Disc Recovery?
Physical therapy can be an effective form of treatment for a herniated disc. Apart from helping with pain management, stretching and strengthening the muscles in your back can prevent further injury.
To avoid causing even more damage to your spinal discs, you should only ever partake in physical therapy under the guidance of a medical professional. It’s also important to note that physical therapy is not a magic fix for disc herniation – it works for some people, but can be less effective for others.
Claiming Herniated Disc Compensation
If you have sustained a herniated disc under circumstances there were out of your control, you may be eligible for compensation.
Taking legal action can help you cover the cost of medical expenses, lost income and ongoing rehabilitation.
To qualify for damages, you will need to prove that your injury was caused by the negligent actions of a third party.
Making a herniated disc compensation claim
The Personal Injury Lawyers can help you build a strong case, giving you the best possible chance of getting the compensation you deserve.
Contact us today for more information on making a herniated disc compensation claim.