Ruptured Disc

For most average sufferers - that is to say individuals with no medical background - of a ruptured disc, it comes like a thief in the night. One moment, you feel fine and in the next moment, searing pain invades your body, with its epicenter in the spinal column. And after the pain come the questions of what causes it, how it is treated and how it can be prevented. Well, then, let this be your layman's guide as to the anatomy of the disc in its normal and herniated states.

Normal State of the Discs

We all know that the spinal column is the row of bones, also called vertebrae, in the middle of our back that starts at the base of the skull and ends at the top of the pelvic bone. In physically healthy individuals, it has a slight S-curve. Its main functions are to protect the sensitive spinal cord from trauma and to provide skeletal support for the body. Also, the spinal column is composed of parts like muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and discs, all of which are interconnected and interdependent. The most important in this discussion of a ruptured disc are, of course, the discs.

Now, the discs are soft and gelatinous material that acts as shock absorbers of the vertebrae against the constant wear and tear generated by daily activities. You can think of them as soft barriers between the bones of the vertebrae, which significantly contribute to the flexibility of the spine.

Herniated State of the Discs

There are many causes of a bulging or herniated or ruptured disc, of which two are the most notable. First, as we age, the muscles in our spinal discs start to lose fluid consistency. As such, we are more prone to incidences of a ruptured disc more than we care to. So, basically, this cause is age-related. Second, trauma and injuries borne of unintentional accidents or deliberate damage to the spinal column can result in herniated discs. Even the simple motion of lifting a heavy object in an inappropriate manner can cause undue stress on the disc, hence, leading to its rupture. Whatever the cause, a herniated disc is one that protrudes into the surrounding spinal canal. Think of fluid oozing out of its container and you have the idea of a herniated disc.

In itself, a herniated disc is not painful. It is only when it begins to touch the nerves around it that pain is felt. For a ruptured disc on the lower back, you might feel a sharp pain in the leg, buttock and hip with numbness in the other parts. For a herniated disc on the neck, the pain is centered on the neck, the shoulder blade and the upper arm. Take note that often only one side of the body is affected although it can radiate to the other part as the condition worsens.

You must consult your doctor when you feel this kind of pain especially after lifting heavy weights. Through physical examination and imaging technology, a ruptured disc can be definitively diagnosed. After these tests, home treatments, medical interventions, alternative therapies, and even surgery can then be considered.

If you're interested in more info you can read about bulging cervical disc here.