Our spine is made up of rubbery cushions (disks) and bones (vertebrae) that stack up and align. It supports our neck down to our lower back and allows body movement possible.
A spinal disk is a jelly like soft substance encased in a hard exterior. Disk herniation occurs when the soft jelly pushes through the hard exterior. This results in nerve compression or irritation of nearby nerves that can result in localized pain, weakness, or numbness of the extremities. Although many people are asymptomatic and don’t experience any complications.
The most common disk herniation occurs in the lower lumbar spine although it may occur anywhere along the spine.
Numbness and tingling – Most people experience numbness and tingling around the body area innervated by the affected nerves.
Weakness – Muscles innervated by the affected nerves may cause weakness, affecting mobility and gait.
Arm or leg pain – If the disk herniation is in the lumbar spine, pain around the buttocks, calf, or thigh may occur. If the disk herniation is in the cervical spine, pain in the shoulders and arm may be evident. Pain may be sharp, shooting, and intense depending on severity.
Disk herniation is most often caused by disk degeneration, natural aging process of wear and tear. As we age, the water content in our disks gradually “dry up,” hence the decline of flexibility and agility, resulting in the increased likelihood of disk rupture or tear.
Sometimes using your back muscles instead of your legs to lift heavy objects may result in disk herniation but the occurrence is rare. Traumatic injury leading to disk herniation is also less common.
Job – People with physically demanding jobs like heavy lifting, repetitive motion of pushing, pulling, bending, twisting and bending etc. are at a higher risk.
Weight – Carrying excess body weight can bare burden and stress on the lower back and disks.
Genetic factors – Some people are predispose to develop the condition.
Seek medical attention immediately if the pain, weakness, and numbness is so severe you can’t perform daily activities. Some people may develop bladder dysfunction and incontinence. General anesthesia and progressive loss of sensation may occur.
Maintain healthy weight – Excess weight puts more pressure and stress on your spine, increasing the chances of disk herniation.
Good posture – Sit straight and keep your back aligned especially when sitting for long hours. Good posture reduces the stress on your disk and spine. When lifting heavy objects remember to let your legs do most of the work and not your back.
Exercise – Strengthening your core muscles can benefit and stabilize your spine.
Most often, a physical exam and medical history is enough to make a diagnosis. If your doctor wants to know which nerve is affected, imaging tests may be required.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Uses large magnetic and radio waves to look at organs and structures inside your body. This test can confirm the location of the herniated disk and the affected nerves.
Computerized tomography (CT scan) – X-ray tests that produce cross-sectional images of your organs, bones, and tissues with the combination of x-rays and a computer.
Myelogram – A contrast dye is injected into the spine. X-rays or CT scan is taken to look for problems in the spinal canal.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications – If the pain is mild to moderate, OTC medications like ibuprofen or naproxen can help alleviate the pain and discomfort. Ex: Motrin, Advil, Aleve
Cortisone injections – Corticosteroids may be injected directly into the spinal nerves to suppress inflammation and reduce swelling.
Muscle relaxers – If you have muscle spasms, your doctor may prescribe muscle relaxers.
Anticonvulsants – May be helpful in the treatment of radiating nerve pain associated with disk herniation.
Narcotics – If OTC pain medication doesn’t suppress the pain, your doctor may prescribe narcotics such as codeine or an oxycodone-acetaminophen for a short amount of time. Ex: OxyContin, Percocet
A small number of people with herniated disks may require surgery. Your doctor may suggest surgery if conservative treatments haven’t been successful and symptoms persists for over 6 weeks. The telltale signs are:
Difficulty walking or standing
Numbness and weakness
Bladder dysfunction or loss of bowel control
Most often, surgeons will remove the protruding portion of the disks. Rarely will the entire disk be removed. If removed, the vertebrae may need to be fused together with metal hardware to provide spinal stability.
Alternatives to ease pain:
Ancient Wellness’ Bone & Joint Wellness contains 21 potent herbal extracts that supports active joint and tissue function. It can help reduce joint inflammation and pain while improving joint circulation and healing. May help shrink tissue growth such as bone spurs and disk protrusion (herniation) to reduce pain and heal the root cause of disease. Bone & Joint Wellness contains herbs that fortifies and strengthens the liver and kidneys which governs sinews and bone; activates blood circulation to promote healing and restoration.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), disorders of the bone is governed by the kidneys. The TCM kidney controls and produces marrow which is equivalent to the brain and spinal cord. The TCM function of the marrow is to provide nourishment to the brain and spinal cord. If marrow is deficient, bones lose nourishment and the person will be unable to walk or stand.
If Qi and blood is stagnate in the channels, there will be pain. Imagine a river flowing unimpeded but if a large boulder falls into the river, the river no longer flows smoothly. This is the same for the human body. When our body is imbalanced, qi and blood doesn’t flow smoothly resulting in stagnation and disease. Herbs can help clear away the obstruction and ensure that normal flow is restored.
Align your health. Be well. Live well.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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