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Herniated Disc Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis


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Herniated discs are extremely common back injuries. Herniated disc disease is due to a change in the structure of the normal disc. Most of the time, disc disease comes as a result of aging and the degeneration that occurs within the disc. Occasionally, severe trauma can cause a normal disc to herniate. Trauma may also cause an already herniated disc to worsen. They occur when the thick outer layer (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral spinal disc bulges or ruptures. Sometimes, the gel-like interior of the disc (nucleus pulposus) will actually break through the outer layer and leak out into the body. This is called a ruptured or extruded disc.

Some herniated disks can be painful. The most common signs and symptoms of a herniated disk are:

- Sciatica - a radiating, aching pain, sometimes with tingling and numbness, that starts in the buttock and extends down the back of one leg
- Pain, numbness or weakness in the lower back and one leg, or in the neck, shoulder, chest or arm
- Low back pain that worsens when you sit, cough or sneeze

Several risk factors make you more susceptible to a herniated disk:

- Age : Herniated disks are most common in middle age ( after age 60 ) due to aging-related degeneration of the disks.
- Smoking : Smoking tobacco increases the risk of disk herniation because it decreases oxygen levels in the blood, depriving your body tissues of vital nutrients.
- Weight : Excess body weight causes extra stress on the disks in the lower back.
- Diabetes : Diabetes can deplete oxygen levels in the blood, making spinal disks more prone to herniation and disease.
- Occupations that strain the spine : Physical Work ( like lifting, pulling, pushing etc. ), such as farming, concrete reinforcement, lumber work, quarry work, food packing, trucking and warehousing. Sitting or standing in one position also may increase the risk of disk herniation.

The doctor's are diagnosis by using below methods:

  • X-ray - High-energy radiation is used to take pictures of the spine.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) - An MRI provides detailed pictures of the spine that are produced with a powerful magnet linked to a computer.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan - A CT scan uses a thin X-ray beam that rotates around the spine area. A computer processes data to construct a three-dimensional, cross-sectional image.
  • Electromyography (EMG) - This test measures muscle response to nervous stimulation.

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