Just take a gander at the intricate marvel of evolution that is the vertebral column. As the hominids stood up and evolved into bipeds, the requirement for the spinal column became very complicated. Now the vertebral column has to be not just tough, but also has to be flexible and to afford a dynamic range of movements. This seemingly impossible task is achieved by the brilliant evolution of dense bones called the vertebrae separated by cushions called the discs. The discs prevent the bones from rubbing against each other. However modern day living has contributed to the unnatural and rapid wear and tear of the spongy discs and this is the reason we are talking about it as an issue.
The occurences of trauma, wear and tear and illness have actually become common among the population as sedentary lifestyles increase, as professions start demanding repetitive motions that cause repetitive stress and yield injuries as a result of that. The impact of these occurrences can cause wearing of the bones, but the most immediate effect is on the discs. The discs are the first to show signs of abuse and they can get affected in several ways. The discs are the cushion that shield the vertebrae, and the rupture or wearing out of the disc can cause debilitating injuries, especially if it comes in contact with the spine or the nerves. This pinching of the nerves due to a disc that has prolapsed or moved, is called a herniated disc.
So, what are the signs of a herniated disc?
The first sign that something is not all right is the pain. What may start of as a dull pain may progress to severe pain over time, but the retaining factor is that the pain will not go away. This is a sure sign that the body cannot heal itself in this instance and hence the need to immediately identify the problem location and to take action. The identification process is through the use of imaging technology, like CAT and MRI, and with the help of the physician, the proper test can be conducted and the problem can be identified safely and perfectly. The most common form of herniated discs occur in the lumbar spine (the lower back) and some occur in the cervical spine (the neck area).
It is important to understand the physiology of the pain in order to diagnose the cause. The type of pain goes a long way to point at the fact that it is a herniated disc. The following are the typical kinds of pain that are a dead giveaway that it is a herniated disc.
A) Pain in the extremities – The most telltale sign of a herniated disc is the pain in the extremities, like the thigh, the calf, foot and the buttocks. A herniated disc in the cervical spine however will cause pain in the arms and the shoulders. Acts like coughing, twisting and sudden movements may cause unbearable shooting pain.
B) Muscle fatigue and weakness – Since the nerve impulses are being impinged by the herniated disc, there may eventually be numbness as the muscles atrophy, due to no support from the nerves. This may eventually lead to numbness and decline in motor activity.
C) Numbness and Tingling sensation – Atrophy and prolonged muscle fatigue will lead to muscular degeneration, which will have an adverse impact on the nervous system. A telltale sign of a herniated disc is the occurence of tingling sensations and numbness, alternatively.
D) Muscular Spasms and Inflammation – The body, true to its inbuilt systems of self preservation, will issue an immune response to the problem by way of spasms which are nothing but tightening of the muscles. The superficial effect will be the inflammation in the problem areas, the lower back or the neck area.
Proper diagnosis and support from the physicians at Navaladi Endospine Care will spell the difference between a life of pain and debilitation and a life of normalcy.