What is herniated disc?

The human spine is composed of 33 vertebrae. Each vertebrae is made up of a hard casing that protects the jelly-like nucleus of the spinal disc. As we age and due to various injuries, this hard casing may become compromised, allowing the gel-like material to become compressed outward. As the gel escapes, the disc may begin to press upon the surrounding nerves, resulting in mild to severe pain. This rupturing of the spinal disc cartilage is known as a herniated disc. This common cause of lower back pain is also known as a slipped disc.

How Herniated Discs Happen

As we age, our spinal discs lose their water content, resulting in less protective fluid and less flexibility. This causes the spinal casing to become more susceptible to breakage. Spinal nerves are extremely sensitive. When the cushioning of the nucleus ruptures, the nerves may become pinched resulting in severe pain.
Patients who are not physically active or who are overweight may be more susceptible to a herniated disc. Alternatively, people who work in physically demanding environments that put excessive stress and strain on the spine will also be more prone to a slipped disc.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

The most common symptom of a herniated disc is sciatica, which is pain that radiates throughout the lower back down through one leg. However, the symptoms of a herniated disc will depend on the severity of the rupture, as well as its location. If a disc closer to the neck is herniated, patients may experience more discomfort in their upper body.
Alternatively, if the herniation occurs in the lumbar spine (the lower back), then patients may experience numbness and tingling throughout the lower half of their body. Some patients may experience significant numbness in their lower appendages. This loss of feeling may result in losing control of the bowels or bladder.
Sitting for long periods of time may exacerbate a herniated disc. Patients with a herniated disc may not be able to sit still, but bending and reaching may also worsen the symptoms. Whether the herniated disc has occurred at the top or bottom of the spine, you may find relief from standing
Lower back pain and neck pain can be indicative of a herniated disc; however, there are a variety of ailments that may cause similar symptoms. This is one of the many reasons why seeking a professional opinion is so important to attaining a full recovery.

How to treat a Herniated Disc

About 90% of patients with a herniated disc can avoid surgery. Spinal decompression is an extremely effective treatment for a herniated disc. Spinal decompression painlessly gives patients significant relief from the inflammation associated with a herniated disc. In addition to spinal decompression, patients also benefit from passive therapy such as hot and cold treatments. Massage therapy may also be recommended to ease the muscle tension and inflammation associated with a slipped disc.
Therapeutic exercises can help to strengthen the muscles surrounding the spine, providing additional support to prevent further injury. Controlled stretching will relieve nerve pressure while posture education and strength training gives patients the tools they need to restore their ranges of motion and protect their joints.

Hydrotherapy for a Herniated Disc

Stay active without overstressing yourself. Get the benefit of therapeutic exercise while enjoying a relaxing, low-impact healing environment. Our hydrotherapy pools create the perfect environment for patients to begin healing from a herniated disc. Keep your muscular strength up and relieve your joints in a safe and productive way. Our therapists will show you how to maneuver in the pool to encourage significant pain relief and catalyze healing.

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