The vertebral column is made up of 33 vertebrae that are separated by spongy discs. Discs are round-like structures located in between the vertebrae of the spinal column acting as shock absorbers for the spine. A spinal disc has a soft jelly-like center (nucleus pulposus) and a rubber-like tough outer exterior (annulus). A disc herniation occurs when a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out through a tear or a rupture in the annulus. The jelly-like material can migrate into the spinal canal and push on a nerve root located just behind the disc space. This can cause pain, weakness, numbness or changes in sensation. Most disc herniation happen in the lumbar spine between the 4th and 5th lumbar vertebrae and between the 5th lumbar vertebrae and the 1st sacral vertebrae (L4-L5, L5-S1).
Signs and Symptoms of Disc Herniation
*Signs and Symptoms can vary greatly, depending on the size and position of the herniation.
*If the nucleus is not compressing a nerve root, you may not have any signs or symptoms
- Back Pain aggravated by specific activities: coughing, straining, sneezing, bending forward, lifting a heavy object, pushing or pulling
- Numbness, Weakness, sensory changes
- Radiating pain into the legs (usually one side)
- Pain while sitting
Causes of Disc Herniation?
- Disc degeneration- aging disc
- Repetitive loading of the spine
- Improper lifting mechanics- twisting, turning, bending
- Conservative care
- Spinal Decompression Therapy
- Exercise Therapy- Strengthening and stabilizing