It is projected that more than 85% of Americans will suffer from an episode of back pain at some point in their lives, and unfortunately most of these incidents are due to some form of injury or stress to the spinal bones. A spinal disc injury occurs when one of the rubbery cushions that sits between the vertebrae in the spine is damaged, leading to nerve and tissue pain in the surrounding area. This rubbery cushion is called a “spinal disc” and keeps each individual vertebrae separate, preventing them from rubbing together. This “buffer” is filled with a fluid, jelly-like substance that acts as a shock absorber. If a spinal disc has some form of trauma occur to it, it can slip or rupture, causing a bulge or a herniation. When this occurs, the nerves of the spinal canal and bones begin to receive pressure and irritation. In the instance of a bulging disc, the jelly substance remains inside the spinal disc but places pressure on an area of the disc, causing a “weak spot” on the outside of the cartilage. Herniated discs occur when the jelly substance actually leaks out of the spinal disc and protrudes onto the nerves in the spine. Even though the two forms are different, they have one thing in common: they place pressure on your spinal cord and cause pain and weakness in all of the areas that the nerve serves.
There are many different nerve problems associated with a herniated disc, so it may become debilitating in other ways besides the back. Many who suffer with a herniated disc in their lower back experience pain in the buttocks, thighs, lower calf, and even the feet. Overtime, a herniated disc weakens the surrounding muscles in the area, making those individuals with a herniated disc feel weaker than they were before their injury.
Depending on which area of the spine is affected, certain areas of the body will be affected as well. If the trauma occurs in the upper back symptoms include:
- pain when moving your neck
- pain that radiates throughout the arms and possibly even the fingers
- deep pain in the shoulder areas
Lower back trauma that results in a bulge or herniation can cause the following symptoms:
- muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling in one or both legs
- an increase in the leg reflexes, which is apparent due to muscle spasms
- changes in bladder and bowel functions
A recent study revealed an astounding fact that low back pain is the second leading cause of missed work time. Since so many people are projected to suffer from back trauma, we decided that this reading should discuss the most common causes of bulging and herniated discs so that you may prevent suffering from this issue yourself.