By Dr. Kelly Herta, DC
You have probably heard people say they have a "slipped" or "ruptured" disk in their neck or lower back. What these people really mean is that they have a herniated disc, a common source of neck, lower back, and arm or leg pain.
Discs are the shock absorber and spacers that lie in between the spinal bones or vertebrae in our spine allowing us to flex and bend in different directions. The human body consists of 23 vertebral discs that are made up of a fibrous outer layer, encompassing a soft jelly-like center similar to a "jelly donut," which has a soft jelly center with a harder outer layer.
Herniated discs happen as a result of an injury to the spine or from something as simple as aging. As a result, the jelly-like material in the middle of the disc pushes to one side of the disc or even ruptures through the outer fibrous layers. This is called a bulging or herniated disc.
In children the discs consist of higher water content than in adults. As people age, the water content in the disc decreases causing them to become less flexible and shrink. As a result, the spaces between the vertebrae get narrower and the disc decrease in strength causing them to be more prone to injury.
As a result of this weakening, the discs are more easily injured. Bad habits such as improper lifting or twisting, excessive body weight, repetitive strenuous activities or an increase in pressure in the back can increase a person's likelihood of suffering from a herniated disc.
Symptoms of herniated discs include:
- Pain that spreads over the buttocks, down the back of one thigh and into the calf
- Pain in one or both legs
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs or feet
- Bowel or bladder changes
- Inability to fully straighten your neck or back
The following strategies may help you reduce your chance of suffering from a herniated disc: Practice good posture - standing and sitting straight, keeping your back straight when lifting. Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly. Chiropractic treatment such as flexion-distraction. Proper exercises focus on strengthening your back and stomach. Don't wear high-heeled shoes. If you sit, get out of your chair every 20 to 25 minutes and walk for several minutes.
For more information, Dr. Kelly Herta, DC at Aligned Health Chiropractic & Wellness Center. 27875 Smyth Dr. # 100, (661)295-5200.