What is herniated disc?
The herniated disc is a disease caused by the displacement of one of the intervertebral discs. Our spine consists of 24 mobile vertebrae. Between each of these vertebrae is an intervertebral disc of cartilage whose interior is gelled and rather soft while the outside is harder. These discs give flexibility to the column and serve as a buffer. When a disc weakens, it can crack or break leaving the softer internal part, the gelatinous nucleus of the disc, burst out of its usual position: it is the disc herniation.
Lumbar disc herniation:
Sometimes called fissure or disc rupture, lumbar disc herniation most often appears in the lower back. This is the most common herniated disc. The lumbar region being much more stressed than the rest of the vertebral column, the discs weaken there more rapidly than elsewhere over the spinal region.
Herniated disc: who is the most affected?
The herniated disc often affects people whose age is between 35 and 55 years. Herniated discs affect men much more than women, given that jobs that require physical strength are usually performed by men. Pregnancy and obesity also increase risk
When should I have a herniated disc operated?
Disc herniation should be operated after failure of well-conducted medical sciatica for at least several weeks, provided that the data provided by the imaging match the symptoms.
Causes of herniated disc
The causes of herniated discs are:
– A hereditary predisposition: the share of heredity seems to exceed 40%, although to date, we have not yet identified embarrassment or thing in terms of heredity. These genetic abnormalities can cause weakness in the structures that make up the spine. In this case, herniated disc usually comes very early: around 20-25 years. We can even see herniated discs in adolescence.
– Older age: The older you get, the more likely you are to have a herniated disc. This is explained by the fact that the spine becomes less hydrated. It loses its solidity, tone, elasticity and height.
–Some trades: many trades are very physical. They require constantly lifting heavy loads, bending or turning. This increases the pressure in the intervertebral disk and therefore the likelihood that you have herniated disc. Staying seated for long periods, plus the vibrations of the engines also have the same effect.
–Overweight: Although there is no real cause-and-effect link between overweight and herniated disc, excess weight aggravates the wear and degeneration of the intervertebral disc. On the other hand, muscular relaxation, particularly of the abdominal strap, which is frequently associated with obesity due to inactivity and inactivity, leads to an exaggeration of the lumbar arch that is responsible for back pain, with the transfer of pressure stresses back to the joints. subsequent
–Pregnancy: The herniated disc is relatively common during pregnancy. The weight of the baby in the belly increases the tensions on the spine.
the symptoms of disc herniation
Most of the time, herniated disc is asymptomatic. That is to say, it shows no symptoms. In some individuals, it goes unnoticed, while for others it is very painful. Thanks to medical imaging tests, we now know that two people who have the same problem of herniated discs will not necessarily have the same symptoms. The pain can vary greatly from one patient to another depending on the area affected by the herniated disc. However, the presence and severity of a herniated disc is not directly related to the intensity of the symptoms. A person can suffer from back without herniated disc. In addition, a “small” hernia can be more painful than a more impressive hernia. The main symptoms are:
–Pain in the lower back or low back pain. The spine is then very painful.
– Pain along the leg
-A feeling of numbness and tingling in the leg and / or foot
-In more serious cases, the spinal cord is affected, it causes paralysis of the limbs or anal and urinary sphincters. This case is extremely rare. This may reveal a more severe problem: the ponytail syndrome
Herniated disc diagnosis
Patients usually come for sciatica or lumbar pain. To find out if you have a herniated disc, your doctor will ask you the history of the disease, and will make a physical examination. The diagnosis of a herniated disc begins with a medical history, where the doctor asks questions to find the causes of pain. He will then proceed to a radiography, a CT scan or an MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). CT or MRI of the lumbar spine is prescribed in case of persistence of sciatica despite the change in medical analgesic treatment, always in addition to the radiographic assessment. It allows visualization of lumbar disc herniation and root compression, as well as a complete assessment of other structures. The doctor can therefore exclude all other causes of low back pain or sciatica, such as tumors, fractures, etc.
Herniated disc and sport
Often, it is not recommended to play sports when you have a herniated disc, because it causes twists of the column that can quickly become painful. We advise you to avoid all team sports. If you suffer from disc herniation, you should also avoid sports such as tennis, badminton, combat sports. Of course, all “extreme” sports are also to be avoided (mountain biking, skiing, trampoline, etc.). Anyway, do not hesitate to consult your doctor. It will guide you to the most compatible sport for you.
However, we recommend sports such as swimming (breaststroke), exercise bike and walking.
Herniated disc and sciatica
In some cases, the pain caused by disc herniation progresses to sciatica. Several factors can be at the origin of sciatica. However, the main cause of sciatica is disc herniation.