Warning signs of spinal disc displacement and what to do about it
Back pain affects as many as 80 percent of the population at one time or another, ranging from a temporary ache to serious disability. While some back ailments can resolve themselves without medical intervention, conditions like spinal disc displacement can be dangerous if not treated by a qualified spine doctor. Knowing the signs and acting quickly are key for successful treatment.
What is spinal disc displacement
Disc displacement is often referred to as a herniated disc or disc protrusion, and occurs when part of the disc gets pushed into the spinal canal. When the “disk budges out toward the spinal canal, it can put pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots,” said the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, (AAOS). This displacement and pressing on the spine often produces symptoms of pain, numbness, tingling, weakness and difficulty with coordination.
That pain is typically felt only on one side of the body, and may increase throughout the day and with certain activities. Standing, sitting, and bodily functions such as coughing, laughing, and sneezing may worsen the pain. Leading spine doctors recommend making an appointment at the first sign of pain to begin treatment for spinal disc displacement.
Where does spinal disc displacement occur
The Lumbar Region
Spinal disc displacement most often occurs in the lumbar spine or lower back. Symptoms of lumbar disc displacement can include: sharp pain in the lower back; leg pain and weakness; extreme pain in the hips or buttocks; numbness from the buttocks down to the foot or any portion of that area; and foot drop, which is â€śthe inability to lift the front part of the foot. This causes the toes to drag along the ground while walking,â€ť said WebMD. In some cases, spinal disc displacement in the lumbar region can also cause loss of bowel/bladder control, which could indicate a serious condition called cauda equina syndrome that requires medical care immediately.
Thoracic disc displacement
Thoracic disc displacement refers to a herniated or protruding disc in the upper back or middle back, and is relatively rare. This type of displacement can be emergent and require immediate care, especially if it first presents with paralysis from the waist down, a known symptom. Other symptoms can include upper back pain and numbness, and pain that radiates out and down.
Cervical disc displacement
Disc displacement can also occur in the neck, and is typically causes by an injury or trauma. The impact on the cervical nerve can cause pain in the neck as well as the arm and shoulder, as well as muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling.
Treatments for spinal disc displacement
Spinal disc displacement can be handled in a variety of ways, with the specific treatment plan determined by the spine doctor. Increasingly, patients are looking for minimally invasive procedures for back pain, which is why they choose spine centers that specialize in this type of treatment. Initial treatments for spinal disc displacement may include rest and anti-inflammatories. Epidural steroid injections are another effective minimally invasive treatment. If there is still not significant change, spine doctors may look to minimally invasive surgical procedures for back pain, like microdiscectomy and percutaneous discectomy.
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