The discs in our spine are essentially rubbery cushions that lie between the bones (vertebrae) that stack up to make the spinal column. These discs have a softer, jelly-like center called a nucleus, according to the Mayo Clinic. A tough, rubbery external casing known as the annulus surrounds the software center portion. Discs can become herniated when part of the inner nucleus pushes through a tear in the annulus, and this can lead to significant discomfort for an individual.
How Does a Disc Become Herniated?
There are a variety of reasons why a disc becomes herniated. In most situations, disc herniation occurs as a result of slower, age-related wear and tear processes called degeneration. As we age, the discs in our spine become less flexible and more prone to sustaining a rupture or tear.
It can be difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of a herniated disc. Certain motions, such as twisting and turning when lifting, make it more likely that a herniated disc will occur, but traumatic events can also cause herniated disc. For example, a severe fall injury, vehicle accident, or traumatic assault could cause a disc to become herniated, particularly for individuals who have risk factors for this type of injury already.
Some of the risk factors associated with a herniated disc include:
- Weight. Overweight individuals have a higher risk of sustaining A herniated disc because the extra weight places extra stress on that area of the body.
- Occupation. Individuals who have physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of back issues, particularly those who have to repetitively lift, pull, push, or bend.
- Genetics. Some people are inherently predisposed to herniated discs due to genetics.
- Sedentary lifestyle. Those who do not have much activity in their life face an increased risk of a herniated disc injury.
- Frequent drivers. Those who remain seated for long periods of time, combined with the vibration of a motor vehicle on the roadway, place extra pressure on their spine.
- Smoking. Smoking increases the risk of a herniated disc because it breaks down the oxygen supply that the discs need to remain healthy.
How is a Herniated Disc Treated?
Individuals who sustain a herniated disc must be diagnosed by a medical professional, and they should follow the treatment plans laid forth by their medical professional. The treatments available range in their invasiveness but typically begin with over-the-counter pain relievers. Other treatment options include:
- neuropathic medications
- muscle relaxers
- cortisone injections
- physical therapy, in combination with other treatments
In some situations, surgery may be recommended by a medical professional if the other treatments fail to improve symptoms. During a herniated disc surgery, surgeons typically remove the protruding portion of the disc. The entire disc may have to be removed in rare circumstances.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Herniated Disc?
If you or somebody you love has sustained a herniated disc injury and you believe that the injury was caused by the negligent actions of someone else, turn to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled personal injury lawyer in Philadelphia can examine the facts of your case and help you move forward with your claim to recover compensation.