The spine is made up of 33 bones called vertebrae. These beads are separated from each other by soft disks that have a jelly structure. In fact, these flexible discs enable you to bend and move easily.
But if the disc between the two vertebrae starts to slip, it irritates the nerves around it and can cause severe pain. People usually call a disc slip “lumbar disc”, but the correct term is “protrusion” or “disc herniation”.
What are the signs and symptoms of a disc herniation?
One of the most common symptoms of a disc herniation is pain. Although protrusions can occur anywhere in the spine, the most common site of protrusion is in the lower part of the spine (lumbar spine).
Protruding disc pain during strenuous activity, frequent bending and straightening, heavy lifting and excessive left and right rotation can increase and decrease during rest, and even frugality, sneezing and sitting can aggravate your symptoms. This is because these activities put pressure on the nerves around the disc.
Age can also have a big effect on this complication because with increasing age, the intervertebral discs lose their flexibility.
How to detect a disc protrusion?
The best way to diagnose a disc protrusion is to see a doctor. The doctor will probably be able to diagnose the source of the pain by touching different parts of the spine. Your doctor can use other diagnostic methods to find other sources of your pain, or nerves involved in the condition. Including:
X-ray imaging: Although x-ray imaging does not reveal a protruding disc, your doctor can make sure that your pain is not due to other spinal problems, such as a tumor or fracture.
CT Scan: Using CT scan, images can be taken from different angles of the spine, and by putting these images together, an overview of the spine and its structure can be obtained.
Electromyography and Neurotransmission Studies (EMG / NCS):
Your doctor may use this test to diagnose nerve damage. The EMG test uses a device to determine the intensity as well as the amount of electricity that muscle cells produce when stimulated through connected nerves.
The electrode needle inserted into the muscle records all the electronic activity of the muscle and reports anything abnormal.
What is the treatment for disc protrusion?
Rest for a few days. Rest can reduce your pain. If you have a protruding disc, avoid sports and other activities that require bending and lifting heavy objects.
Your doctor may ask you to rest in bed for a while. Resting in bed is effective for a short time, but try not to rest for more than 1 or 2 days, because with more rest, they lose their soft muscles.
You can also use hot and cold compresses to reduce your back pain.
Use medication to reduce back pain
Take painkillers such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) or naproxen (Aleve Naprosyn). These medications can reduce your pain as well as swelling in the area. But do not use these pills for more than 10 days without consulting your doctor. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) increase the risk of heart problems or bleeding if used long-term.
Your doctor may also prescribe sedatives to reduce muscle spasms in your lower back.
Nerve pain medications such as amitriptyline (Elavil, Vanatrip), duloxetine or cymbalta, gabapentin or neurontin, pregabalin or lyrica tablets, and tramadol (Ultram) are good options for reducing nerve pain.
Some exercises can help improve the symptoms of a protruding disc. A physiotherapist can teach you the right exercises to reduce your pain. Exercises include the following:
Stretching exercises to maintain muscle flexibility
Aerobic exercise – such as walking or stationary cycling
Hot and cold compresses
Ultrasound (deep heating of the soft tissues of the body)
Electrical stimulation of muscles
Most people with a protruding disc do not need surgery. Rest and side treatments should reduce the symptoms of the disease within 4 to 6 weeks. If the pain does not decrease during this time, the doctor can use the surgical option.
Talk to your doctor about surgery if:
Do not reduce your back pain with medication and physiotherapy.
Your symptoms are getting worse
You have difficulty standing or walking
It may be difficult for you to control your bowel or bladder