A hernia is basically a discontinuity in the covering of an organ or a tissue that leads to the protrusion of its internal contents, due to the weakness in its outer walls. The disks mentioned are the intervertebral discs of the spinal column, and as is apparent from the name, they are present between the vertebrae extending from the base of the skull above to the tail bone below. The disks serve to allow the flexibility of the spine and help to keep the spinal structure assembled together and functioning normally. One of the most common problems intervertebral discs encounter are herniated disk. Below we will discuss herniated disk symptoms, its prevention and cure.
The spinal cord is the main nerve emerging from the brainstem that is responsible for nerve control for most of the body. This is housed inside the spinal canal that runs through the bodies of all the vertebrae. The vertebrae have been named according to their position, the cervical in the neck, the thoracic in the chest, and then the lumbar and the sacral. The most chance of a disk herniating occurs in the cervical and lumbar regions. Herniated disk symptoms can be easily observed in most cases and since it can cause a lot of problems it should be dealt with immediately.
The spinal cord also gives off terminal branches on each level that leave the spinal column through small openings in the vertebrae. If these opening were to somehow become constricted it would lead to the manifestation of pressure symptoms and altered sensations along the distribution of that particular nerve. Another scenario would be compression of the nerve by some other material like the contents of the intervertebral disc that has herniated.
Such compression of the spinal nerve can cause symptoms like pain, altered sensations or no sensations at all, tingling and pins and needles in the areas supplied by the nerve, muscle weakness and wasting. The symptoms are directly related to the degree of compression, and can cause lasting damage to the nerve if present for longer periods of time. Herniated disk symptoms can be picked up with a trip to the doctor, but if neglected this injury can maim for life.
Herniated disk symptoms in the lower back can be confirmed if lower back pain and leg pain is present. One of the herniated disk symptoms is that only one side of the body if impaired by this illness. One of the characteristic features is pain that radiates down into the leg up to the toe and this occurs when the sciatic nerve is involved, featuring intense pain below the knee. The pain can be made worse by standing or sitting for long periods of time, at night, during instances that increase pressure inside the body like sneezing, coughing or even laughing. If the femoral nerve is involved, herniated disk symptoms will include numbness and a tingling sensation can be felt in one or both legs. The perineal nerve, if involved, can cause symptoms in the anal and genital region, leading to erectile dysfunction and urine or faecal incontinence.
The management of herniated disks is usually conservative, by ordering bed rest for a limited time and then encouraging the patient to involve the muscle groups of the lower back in light exercise and stretching. Pain medication involves non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, with corticosteroids reserved for more advanced cases. Surgical management, though quite effective, remains a last resort of management only if the benefits outweigh the risks and involves new techniques like dissolving the disk chemically, dissection of the disk to relieve compression symptoms or even replacement of the disk with an artificial one.