Diagnosis and treatment of herniated discs
You have back or neck pain and you are not sure why.
The pain is sharp, stabbing, diffuse or burning, you may feel numbness or loss of feeling?
You may have a problem like lumbar disc herniation which will have to be treated so that it doesn't get worse!
But what is a herniated disc?
A herniated disc is an injury to a disc in your spine. Intervertebral discs are plates of cartilage located between the vertebrae.
A herniated disc occurs when a disc becomes displaced and compresses one or more nerve roots. Most of the time, it occurs in the lower spine or at the base of the neck.
A herniated disc is often very painful. People between the ages of 25 and 55 are mainly affected. Pregnant women, tall people and those who are overweight are also at greater risk.
What are the patient's symptoms?
A herniated disc can be asymptomatic, meaning it has no symptoms. Moreover, the level of pain and the symptoms vary greatly from one person to another. If you have any doubts, it is best to consult a doctor!
Here is a list of the symptoms that are most commonly experienced with a herniated disc:
- Sharp, intense sensation in the area affected by a herniated disc;
- Numb and weak legs;
- Pain that extends to the buttocks and legs;
- Pain that intensifies when the muscles around the discs of the spine are stressed, when sneezing is done, when physical effort is made, or when standing, sitting or lying flat on the stomach for long periods of time.
- Tingling, numbness or tingling in the back of the leg, calf or foot
- Bowel or bladder problems associated with herniated discs are important; they may indicate the presence of cauda equina syndrome. This is a medical emergency. Consult immediately if you have problems with incontinence or urinary/intestinal retention or numbness around the genitals.
How does a herniated disc occur?
The main cause is often the fact of taking bad postures. This often happens when we :
- Carries heavy loads, which changes the posture;
- Makes movements by bending the back;
- Carries unbalanced loads on one shoulder;
- Makes other movements that twist the spine;
- Does a job that requires sitting all the time.
Sciatica can also appear suddenly after an event such as a fall or an accident. It can appear gradually due to repetitive movements. Lumbar intervertebral osteoarthritis is frequently a cause.
How to treat a herniated disc? What treatments are available?
The first thing to do is to seek a diagnosis, either with your doctor or in a chiropractic clinic.
The latter is highly skilled in the evaluation and diagnosis of such problems.
This way, you can get the support and advice appropriate to your condition!
Of course, you can do treatments at home. Here are our suggestions:
- Rest! This is the main key to getting back on your feet;
- Take turns applying heat and then cold to relieve pain and reduce swelling;
- Do light activities;
- Keeping your back straight, a good posture will save you from many back discomforts.
In many cases, this will not be enough. There are three options available to you.
First, manual therapy, which is chiropractic care
These treatments aim to restore back mobility so that the body can heal itself.
Obviously, rest will be important for the treatment to be more effective. This is a very effective and non-invasive technique. The chiropractor can advise you on exercises and methods to strengthen and stabilize your back.
Here is a short video of one of the treatments we offer at our clinic: Traitement pour l’hernie discale.
Second, drug therapy may become necessary. This approach reduces inflammation, but does not relieve symptoms or mobility.
Surgical treatment of herniated discs
Finally, surgical therapy is the last resort. It should be considered if there are neurological deficits such as paresthesia, paralysis, or sphincter disorders.
Prevent herniated discs
There are two ways to prevent a herniated disc:
- Get into good positions throughout the day. Like squatting to lift heavy loads and standing upright. It is the leg muscles that need to be used;
- Do exercises and stretches before physical exertion and to strengthen stomach and back muscles.
Can a herniated disc cause complications?
It is rare for a herniated disc to cause complications, so rest assured.
If you follow a treatment while following the advice and resting, your compressed nerve fibers will come back into place while decompressing.
However, in some cases, a hernia compresses the nerve fibers that control the muscles, the "motor" fibers. The latter recover less well from the compression, which can cause lasting paralysis. In this case, the compression must be removed very quickly by an urgent surgical intervention.
A sudden decrease or disappearance of pain due to a herniated disc may be a sign of worsening nerve compression and motor fiber damage.
Also, weakness in an arm or leg, or the inability to walk on tiptoes or heels, may be a sign of damage to the motor fibers that innervate the leg. In the arm, compression of the motor fibers may result in a loss of finger dexterity.
It is estimated that 90% of sciatica cases are caused by a herniated disc that is not treated in time. You don't want to go there!
As soon as you feel back pain and even with a lot of sleep it doesn't go away, take the time to go see a doctor.
The health of your spine is more than important. It's what supports you every day!
Take advantage of our free initial consultation to have an examination of your vertebrae. Following this examination, we will know more about the possibility of a herniated disc and the aggravating factors. In any case, we have your well-being at heart and will be able to advise you on the steps to take to get you back on your feet!
Discover also our article on...
Nerve compression - Lumbar and pelvic region. (2014, August 27). Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) - Canadian Chiropractic Association. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://chiropractic.ca/fr/compression-nerveuse-region-lombaire-et-pelvienne/
Compression nerveuse – Tête et cou. (2014, August 27). Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) - Canadian Chiropractic Association. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://chiropractic.ca/fr/nerve-entrapment-headaches/
The herniated disc in the lower back. Health information and education project. University of Montreal Hospital Center. Retrieved February 16, 2022, from https://www.chumontreal.qc.ca/sites/default/files/2018-06/424-1-La-hernie-discale-au-bas-du-dos-la-hernie-discale-lombaire.pdf
Team, C. S. (2019, 21 octobre). Sciatic nerve pain: what you need to know and tips to relieve the pain. Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA). Accessed February 16, 2022, at https://chiropractic.ca/fr/blogue/douleur-au-nerf-sciatique-ce-quil-faut-savoir-et-conseils-pour-soulager-la-douleur/