Your spine is an essential structure in your body, allowing you to sit and stand upright. It is composed of many small bones called vertebrae that fit together. They are separated by discs that keep them from rubbing together.
Highly skilled board-certified orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Jose E. Rodriguez-Cordova Orthopaedic heads the Institute For Spinal Disorders in Houston, Texas. Supported by his dedicated and compassionate staff, Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova provides general orthopaedic services with a special emphasis on neck and spine treatments. They use the latest tools and treatments to provide you with diagnosis and treatments that are right for you,
What’s a herniated disc?
Your spine is made of vertebrae, small bones that fit together like puzzle pieces. They fit around your spine, protecting it, and flex as you move your back. Small rubbery cushions called discs are between the vertebrae, preventing them from rubbing against each other.
The discs are made up of two layers, a soft center surrounded by a tougher rubbery exterior that contains it. Sometimes the softer inner layer pushes out through the outer layer, which is called a herniated disc.
Symptoms of a herniated disc
Depending on the exact location of the herniated disc, your symptoms will vary, but likely will include some of the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Problems walking
- Difficulty holding objects in hands
The location of the affected disc determines whether you experience the symptoms in your arms, shoulders, buttocks, or legs.
Five risk factors that can lead to a herniated disc
The following risk factors increase the chance that you might develop herniated discs.
As you age, the discs between your vertebrae gradually wear down, a condition known as disc degeneration. The discs also become less flexible, which can make them more susceptible to tearing when you twist your back
Extra body weight puts extra pressure on the flexible discs that cushion your vertebrae, increasing the chances of developing a herniated disc.
Certain genes that you may have in your body can increase the chances that you may develop a herniated disc.
Smoking decreases your lung capacity, which decreases the amount of oxygen that is available to feed your body’s tissues. This can decrease the oxygen supply to the discs in your spine, making them break down more quickly, leading to herniated discs.
If you have a job that is very physically demanding, requiring you to repetitively lift or pull heavy objects, or bend or twist regularly, your chances of developing a herniated disc is increased due to the stress on your back.
Treatments for herniated discs
There are many treatment options for herniated discs, including rest, muscle relaxants, pain relievers, and lifestyle modifications. Surgery is considered after more conservative treatments have not been effective. Dr. Rodriguez-Cordova works to find the best treatment option for you that relieves your symptoms and allows you to return to your normal activities.
A herniated disc is a condition in which the discs between your spinal cord bulge, resulting in irritation of the surrounding nerves, causing pain, weakness, and tingling sensations. There are many risk factors, including excess weight, genetics, and lifestyle factors, that increase your chances of developing herniated discs.