4 Things to Know About Herniated Discs

Back pain is a common health issue for many Americans. In fact, 80 percent of all adults will experience back pain during their lifetime. Some cases of back pain are caused by spinal problems, such as a herniated disc.

To help you better understand this condition, here are four things to know about herniated discs.

1. Know the Risk Factors for Herniated Discs

The spine contains rubber-like cushions called discs that are located between the vertebrae. When these discs push through the tough exterior of the vertebra, it results in a condition called herniated discs. Injuries to the spine, as well as wear and tear of the spine, are the primary causes of a herniated disc.

People who have certain risk factors can increase their chances of getting a herniated disc. These risk factors include obesity, genetics, or having a job that requires a lot of standing. Smokers may be prone to getting the condition as well.

2. Know the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

Some people won't experience any symptoms of a herniated disc. Others who have herniated disc near a nerve may experience the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the arm, leg, or back
  • Muscle weakness or muscle spasms
  • Leg or foot numbness
  • Tingling and burning
  • Stiff neck

Oftentimes the symptoms depend upon where in the spine the herniated disc is located.

3. Know the Treatment Options for Herniated Disc

Herniated disc treatment largely depends upon the severity of the condition and how much pain the condition causes. Those who have mild to moderate pain can take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications. If the pain doesn't improve with OTC medications, cortisone injections or muscle relaxers may be necessary. To help manage the pain, physicians may recommend physical therapy in addition to medications.

If none of these herniated disc treatments work, surgery is another option. This option is usually reserved for those whose herniated disc causes them to have difficulty walking or standing, or the condition causes a loss of bladder or bowel control. Alternative herniated disc treatment includes chiropractic care, acupuncture, and massage therapy.

4. Know How to Prevent Herniated Disc

There are some things that aging adults can do to help prevent a herniated disc. The best thing they can do is stay active. Aging adults should get plenty of exercise, especially exercises that help to strengthen the trunk muscles. Strengthening these muscles helps to stabilize the spine. Having good posture and maintaining a healthy weight are some other ways to prevent herniated discs.