Also called a ruptured disc or a slipped disc, a herniated disc is a condition where the more fluid interior of a vertebral disc is squeezed out through a tear in the tougher exterior of the disc. What makes this painful is the loss of cushion provided between vertebrae when a disc becomes herniated. Discs are relied upon to prevent bone-on-bone friction, but they also provide space for nerves in the spine.
Causes of herniated discs are often vague; however, overuse or misuse of the back muscles, especially during heavy lifting is often associated. With a herniated disc, a patient can feel pain resulting from the irritation of those nerves.
Some patients with herniated discs may feel no pain at all, but others complain of numbness and tingling, or intense pain shooting to the extremities of the body part closest to the impaction. Lumbar discs will result in pain to the lower part of the body, mainly the lower back and buttocks. Cervical disc problems will result in pain to shoulders and arms.
Treatment for herniated discs cover a broad range of surgical as well as non-surgical avenues. Medicines prescribed could include over-the-counter pain management (Advil, Tylenol, Aleve, and their generic counterparts), narcotics (OxyContin, Percocet, etc.), anticonvulsants, muscle relaxers, and cortisone injections. Physical therapy can also help you discover positions and exercises that help to minimize pain.
In rare cases, surgery may be needed to correct the issue. Talk to your doctor if you experience numbness, weakness, difficulty standing, or loss of bladder or bowel control. Again, these cases are very rare and should be managed by medication and therapy first.