Slipped discs are painful and can negatively impact daily activity. Unfortunately, as we age, our bodies change and become more susceptible to injuries. It’s important that we understand why and how these injuries occur. This allows us the opportunity to change our behaviors and methods to prevent them from happening. Life is busy and it is easy to get caught up in taking care of everything but ourselves. However, it is vitally important to take care of our bodies.
A Family Chiropractic Clinic treats slipped discs and many other injuries. Back and neck pain affect everyone at some point in their life. Our goal is to treat the conditions causing your pain and help you take control of your life. We do this by educating our patients as part of our treatment plans. This provides you with the opportunity to prevent further injury.
What Are Slipped Discs?
Your spinal column is comprised of vertebrae stacked one on top of the other. The vertebrae are protected by discs that absorb shock and allow for easier movement. These little discs allow us to move comfortably as we walk, run, twist, and lift objects. Without them, our vertebrae would not be as flexible. Instead, they would grind on each other causing pain as they gradually wear down. As we get older, these discs gradually dry out and break down. As they weaken, our backs become more susceptible to injury.
The anatomy of these discs consists of two parts. The inside of the discs are filled with a gel-like substance. Each disc also has a tough outer shell. A slipped disc is when the gel-like interior protrudes from the outer shell. This condition can be caused due to injuries or constant wear and tear. Slipped discs are more common in adults due to the weakening state of the discs as we age.
Symptoms of Slipped Discs
Slipped discs can be quite painful depending on location. Often, a slipped disc will compress nearby nerves. When this happens, it’s not unusual to experience numbness, tingling, or pain along the compressed nerve.
A slipped disc can occur anywhere along your spine. However, they are much more common in the lower back or in the neck. These two areas of your spine are the most vulnerable to injury. In addition to pain, tingling, and numbness, many people also experience muscle weakness. This can impair your body’s ability to function to its best ability. Often, the symptoms are felt on one side of the body. You may experience pain and discomfort in an arm or a leg depending on which nerves are compressed.
The pain from a slipped disc is typically worse at night. It also can worsen after long periods in the same sitting or standing position. Certain movements such as walking can also cause the pain and discomfort to worsen. The severity of the pain can vary from person to person. However, if you lose the ability to control your muscles, bladder, or bowels then you need to seek urgent medical attention.
Causes of Slipped Discs
The discs in our spine weaken with age and repetitive movements. This means that a slipped disc could occur simply because of the disc’s weakened state. However, one of the most common causes of slipped discs is lifting large or heavy objects incorrectly. For example, if you turn or twist while lifting a heavy object then you are greatly increasing your chance of injury. Moving in this manner places significant strain on your lower back. It is very important that you educate yourself on how to lift and move objects safely.
It’s also important that you live a lifestyle that is conducive to the health of your spine. A healthy diet and exercise regimen can greatly reduce your risk of injury. Individuals who are overweight have a higher risk for injury. This increased risk is due to the extra weight their body must support. An inactive lifestyle will lead to weakened muscles. Weak back and core muscles also make you more susceptible to injury.
Diagnosing and Treating Slipped Discs
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a slipped disc it is important to seek medical attention. Your doctor or chiropractor are great assets for diagnosing and treating slipped discs. You will be examined in order to locate the origin of your pain and discomfort. Your provider may run diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions. They’ll also check nerve function and muscle strength in the affected area.
In some cases, your provider may request additional imaging tests. These tests help your provider view and evaluate the bones and muscles in the area. Tests often include x-rays, CT scans, MRI scans, and discograms. After your doctor or chiropractor review your test results they should be able to diagnose the problem.
It is very important that you seek treatment if you believe you have a slipped disc. If you don’t seek treatment for your symptoms then a slipped disc can result in permanent nerve damage. If the condition worsens you may lose nerve impulses to your bowel and bladder. Should this happen, it results in an emergency situation and you would need emergency medical attention.
Treating Slipped Discs
In extreme cases, a slipped disc may require surgery. However, most of the time a slipped disc is able to heal without invasive treatment. A chiropractor can help realign your spine to reduce or eliminate the pressure on your nerves. Chiropractic care, combined with physical therapy can greatly reduce your recover time. These treatment options together help reduce pain and discomfort while strengthening your back and core to prevent further injury.
During your recovery it’s important to avoid movements and positions that are painful. You also should be very careful when taking pain relievers. These medications can reduce pain and eliminate symptoms. When you feel better due to pain medications you are much more likely to reinjure yourself.
While you should take things easy throughout your recovery, it’s also important to stay active. Too much inactivity leads to increased muscle weakness. Staying active with careful stretching and low-impact activities will help speed up your recovery.
Preventing Slipped Discs
While it is not always possible to prevent slipped discs, you can limit your risk. Lower your risk of injury by practicing safe lifting techniques. When lifting large or heavy objects, bend and lift from your knees rather than your waist. Maintaining a healthy weight also goes a long way in the health of your spine. Stay active to keep core and back muscles strong. If your job or daily activities require you to be in one position for a long period of time then be sure to take frequent breaks and stretch often.
You can also visit your chiropractor regularly to ensure your spine stays in alignment. Your spine functions best and you have a lower risk of injury when properly aligned. You can also speak with your chiropractor or physical therapist about the proper way to perform various activities.