Your spine has an amazingly important job to do. It provides structure, support, and flexibility to your body so you can bend and move freely. As you age, changes to your spine increase the risk for problems like a herniated disc, also called a slipped disc or bulging disc.
A herniated disc develops when the rubbery discs that serve as cushions and shock absorbers between the bones of your spine instead become dry, cracked, or damaged. As a result, the jelly-like filling in the center can bulge out, compressing structures in your spine and causing back pain.
The team at Healthy Life Family Medicine understands the complex nature of back pain and how herniated discs can derail your daily life and cause significant pain. If you have back pain, prompt evaluation by a licensed medical professional is truly your best course of action.
Age-related degenerative changes are common culprits
You can suffer a herniated disc because of an injury or excessive strain. However, in many cases, age-related changes to the structures of your spine are responsible for herniated discs. As you age, your intervertebral discs become less flexible and more dry, which leaves them susceptible to damage.
Because of the normal wear-and-tear of aging, even the most simple movements can cause issues. That means you can get a herniated disc just by lifting a heavy object or turning and twisting at the same time.
Common warning signs of a herniated disc
Your spinal canal is narrow. If an intervertebral disc pushes out of place, it can irritate or compress nerve roots, causing pain and other symptoms that vary depending on where the herniated disc occurs in your spine.
Following are some of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc:
- Radiating pain in your arms or legs
- Loss of reflexes or weakness in your arms or legs
- Numbness or abnormal tingling sensations in your arms or legs
- Symptoms that worsen when you cough, sneeze, sit, or stand for long periods
- Sciatica symptoms in your lower back, buttock, and leg
Your symptoms may worsen at night and affect only one side of your body.
Who is at risk of a herniated disc?
A herniated disc can affect anyone, but various factors can increase the likelihood for you, including:
- Being overweight
- Being 35-50 years old
- Having a physically demanding occupation
Additionally, men are at a higher risk of herniated discs than women. The best way of preventing herniated discs involves practicing good posture, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular muscle-strengthening activities designed to stabilize and support your spine. Sometimes a herniated disc is unavoidable.
Herniated disc treatment
When you visit us at Healthy Life Family Medicine, we work closely with you to reach an accurate diagnosis and develop an individualized treatment strategy to ease your symptoms. Herniated disc therapies often include a combination of treatments, such as:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications
- Steroid injections
- Physical therapy
For pain that doesn’t respond to more conservative treatments, we may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon.
Rely on our skilled providers at Healthy Life Family Medicine to quickly diagnose your back pain and help you get the pain relief you need to get back to enjoying life.
Reach out to our Goodyear, Arizona, office to schedule an appointment by calling or booking an appointment online today.