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Disc Problems

Vertebral Disc Definition

here are 24 movable bones of the spine. In between these bones resides a disc. A vertebral disc is the shock-absorbing structure found between the bones. The disc has an outer layer (Annulus Fibrosus) that surrounds the soft gel-like center (Nucleus Pulposus). These discs act as cushions between vertebrae. They help your back stay flexible, so you can bend and twist. The spinal canal, containing the spinal nerves, lies directly behind the disc and vertebral bodies.

Herniated discs (often called ‘slipped’ discs) occur when the cartilage tissue resting between bones in the spine starts to apply pressure on a nerve. While they are a common ailment that can occur at any stage of life, they tend to occur more frequently among people in their middle and later years. In a small proportion of instances, a severely herniated disc can cause months of considerable discomfort. Yet most of the time the pain can be quite easily managed through a combination of remedial exercise and when appropriate, medicine. It is common for people to not even notice that they have a slipped disc and simply be diagnosed with it after going into a medical office for other reasons.

Signs of Disc Herniation

As there are so many potential causes of sudden back pain it is always advisable to consult with a doctor if the pain does start to subside within a week or so. Spine pains differ from the more general ‘numbness’ that is experienced with impact injuries or strains. Disc hernias tend to exhibit the following symptoms:

  • General lower back pain
  • Aches & tightness around the neck
  • Tingling throughout the limbs from hands to feet
  • Difficulty straightening the back or bending over
  • Pain – often very sharp – around the hips, thighs, and buttocks
  • General muscle weakness
It is worth also noting that herniated discs are often not ’caused’ by any clearly identifiable reason. You can quite simply wake up one morning and suddenly be in pain, or just be casually strolling around and suddenly freeze up. When experienced for the first time they can be quite alarming especially if the pain is especially acute. But the good news is that most of the time these issues can be fully addressed and should be addressed quickly.