These are problems to the spinal disks. Disks are the cushion of tissue located
between each of the vertebrae which makes up the spine.
What to look for
Many times, there are no physical symptoms
to damaged disks. However, if your disk problem directly touches or affects spinal nerves,
you may have one or more of the following symptoms:
sharp pain in the back
unable to bend or straighten your back,
gradual development of neck or lower-back
pain, possibly intense on arising or when sneezing or coughing.
numbness or tingling in an arm or leg,
and possibly a weakness in either or both legs.
Damaged spinal disks can cause agonising
pain and discomfort. When you feel the pain, you need to take that as a warning and to
have your body treated as soon as possible before the problem becomes worse and leads to
The disc are pads of tissue situated
between each of the vertebrae which make up the spine. Each disc is made up of a tough,
fibrous outer layer and a softer, jelly-like inner layer called the nucleus.
A slipped disc simply means that the tough
outer layer cracks open and the softer inner layer protrudes out through the crack. If it
presses on any surrounding nerves, it can cause the symptoms of a slipped disc. (see Back Care and Back Pain). This type of damage to a
disk can be irreversible.
People often think that the disks are soft
and flexible and this is a mistake. The disk starts off soft in childhood and gradually
hardens during a lifetime.
By far the majority of disk injuries occur
in the lower back. Not all slipped disks press on nerves, however, and for this reason,
your doctor will usually order an x-ray to view the problem.
Injury and everyday activity can cause disk
problems. Sometimes, though, there is no apparent cause.
Aging is often a cause of disk problems, as
the fibrous tissue of the disk becomes harder and more brittle. Severe cases may be the
result of a deficiency in collagen, the material that makes up cartilage, poor muscle tone
Both conventional and alternative therapies
will offer pain relief, rest, steps to reduce inflammation, and measures to restore
strength and normal activity. Except in severe cases, herniated disks generally heal
themselves, and surgery is rarely necessary.
Doctors usually prescribe bed rest (as any
movement can increase the pain and discomfort) and pain killers.
If the disk is just temporarily distorted,
the potential for complete recovery is excellent. If the outer membrane actually breaks
and loses some of its center, however, the damage may be permanent unless more aggressive
steps are taken.
Besides pain relief and rest, alternative
therapies tend to focus on relaxation and gentle exercise.
Yoga strengthens back muscles and
relaxation to aid in preventing disk problems
When to seek further
you experience persistent pain in the
upper or lower back
back pain is accompanied by fever
you have sudden loss of feeling or
weakness in your extremities