One of the most common causes of back and neck pain is disc herniation. Often called "ruptured" or "bulging discs" or "slipped discs", herniated discs may pinch the spinal nerves leading to back pain, neck pain, tingling, numbness, and radiating pain in the arms or legs.
The spine contains 26 vertebrae that are separated by tough cartilage-like cushions called intervertebral discs. Inside each of these discs is a soft, jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus that is surrounded by tough fibrous ring called the annulus fibrosus. As we age, the spinal discs begin to dry out and collapse. Any sudden force like the blow of a car accident or an awkward motion like twisting, bending, or lifting something heavy may lead to disc herniation.
There are two primary mechanisms of disc herniation; the first occurs when the tougher ring of the intervertebral disc ruptures, allowing the soft inside to protrude outside of the tougher exterior. This bulging disc can irritate or pinch the surrounding spinal nerves, leading to painful symptoms along the neural pathway. Torn or ruptured discs do not always need to be pinching the nerves to inflict pain however; disc herniation may spark the release of inflammatory chemicals causing pain.
Another common mechanism of disc herniation that is only just beginning to be studied is called endplate junction failure. The spinal discs are attached to the vertebrae by connective cartilage tissue; when these connective tissue starts to separate (avulse) or break off from the vertebrae, a patient may experience disc herniation. New research suggests that this explains about 60% of lumbar disc herniation cases.
Lumbar disc herniation: Herniated discs occur most frequently in the lumbar spine, situated in the lower back. This leads to lower back pain and sciatica-like symptoms of radiating pain in the buttocks, hips, legs, and feet.
Cervical disc herniation: This is the second most common type of disc herniation affecting the cervical spine in the neck. Patients will experience neck pain, along with cervical radiculopathy (radicular pain) in the upper back, shoulders, arms, and wrists.
Thoracic disc herniation: The thoracic spine is located in the mid back. Disc herniation in this area is rare, affecting only 0.15-4% of patients.
While surgery is an option for disc herniation, many herniated discs can be alleviated with conservative, evidence-based treatments, like what we offer our patients in Las Vegas and Henderson, NV. As neck and back pain specialists, our Henderson & Las Vegas chiropractors can diagnose whether your symptoms are a sign of disc herniation, and build an individualized treatment plan. Chiropractic adjustments, massage, spinal decompression, and exercise rehabilitation can all help to ease pressure on any irritated spinal nerves, while allowing the disc to heal with time.
For effective treatment of disc herniation, contact Advanced Spine and Rehabilitation in Henderson, NV today.