What Is The Anatomy Of Back Bone?
Your back bone is made up of small, bony structures called vertebrae which are 24 in number. These small bones are roughly spherical and each vertebra is supplied by a small disc-like structure of viscous composition known as intervertebral disc. These discs ensure proper spacing of adjacent vertebrae and these intervertebral discs along with vertebrae form a canal like structure and within which lays the spinal cord. This is an essential structure that receives and transfers electrical impulses (stimuli) from different parts of body to brain and vice versa.
Anatomy Of Intervertebral Disc
Intervertebral disc is almost half an inch structure composed of two layers:
- Annulus Fibrosis: It is the outer part of disc composed of fibro cartilage and is tough, flexible.
- Nucleus Pulposus: It is the inner jelly like layer, which protects the spinal cord from getting compressed against any two vertebrae
Statistics have revealed that approximately 25% of people below 40 complain about slipped disc or disc degeneration. Almost 60% of people above the age of 40 suffer from these problems. More information on what is a slipped disc.
Causes Of Slipped Disc
Slipped disc is usually associated with weakening of outer layer of disc slip which causes the inner jelly like matrix to escape resulting in decreased space between two adjacent vertebrae and thus resulting in pain due to pressing of the spinal cord protruding from that part of back bone. Some of major causes resulting in disc slip in lower back are as follows:
- Obesity – This condition results in exertion of high pressure on the backbone thus weakening the disc and thus triggering the onset of disc degeneration.
- Lifting heavy object – Lifting a heavy object may be another cause of disc slip.
- Aging – With the increase of age intervertebral disc starts getting feeble which may result in disc slip.
- Smoking – Some of the medical practitioner stress that smoking is one of the major cause of disc slipping because when the oxygen supply decreases within the body it leads to disc degeneration.
- Frequent long-hour sitting – Getting seated for a longer period of time or frequent driving contributes as a major factor of back related problems.
- Gender – It is considered that men of age up to 50 are more likely to develop it in comparison to women.
Symptoms Of Slipped Disc
The symptoms of slipped disc are listed as follows:
- Back pain – Disc slip begins with back pain that progresses slowly and reduces on lying on a flat surface.
- Leg, thigh or foot pain – Disc slip also causes pain in buttock, thigh and foot region due to pressing of sciatic nerve. This is a nerve that lies in the lower region of body extending from buttock to the foot region.
- Other affected nerve – If the disc slip affects any other nerve supply then it may lead to muscle paralysis and numbness followed by loss over bladder control (in few extreme cases).
- Cauda equine syndrome – It is a syndrome causing suppression of nerve situated at the bottom of the spinal cord. This causes paralysis of legs, pain in thighs, loss over bladder control along with numbness.
Diagnosis Of Slipped Disc
- Neurological test – As disc slip is associated with spinal nerve so your doctor will assess your sensory response over the reported part of the body that may get affected by disc slip.
- Straight leg raise test – It is a test performed by doctors for patients below the age of 35. In this test you lie straight on a flat surface and your doctor lifts your affected leg with the knees kept straight. If patient reports pain then the doctor can diagnose that he or she is suffering from disc slip in lower back condition.
- MRI scan – To confirm the disorder your doctor will prescribe you a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scan. This displays the structure of the part under examination.
Treatment For Slipped Disc
Depending on individual condition, two types of treatment are devised for treating slipped disc:
- Non-surgical treatment
- Bed rest: Complete bed rest over a flat, plain surface may ease up the symptoms. If the damage is not deep, it can be cured with ample rest.
- Anti-inflammatory Drugs: Anti-inflammatory drugs help reduce the inflammation to a great extent. Ibuprofen and naproxen are listed among these drugs and they work effectively.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy is useful for people with disc slip. Certain prescribed exercises help to relieve pain and reduce symptoms.
- Steroid injection: Steroids are injected that help in reducing the inflammatory response.
- Surgical treatment
Surgical treatment is necessary for those patients who are not responding to any other non-surgical method. Although this is rare, but it is necessary and adopted in some cases. These surgical treatments may include the following:
- Microdiskectomy: The most common surgical method is microdiskectomy. This involves removal of disc fragments that is pressing against the spinal nerve. Although this surgical method has some pros and cons but it may be affective in some cases. Surgery may cause complications in not all but most of the cases which include inflammation, nerve damage, hematoma (accumulation of blood around nerve) and recurrence of slipped disc.
It depends on the degree of pain and other symptoms are also taken in consideration.
- Electro stimulation: This method is followed by physical therapist it involves placement of an electrode closest to the region of disc slip.
- Laser light therapy: It involves a light of particular intensity that is supplied over the affected part.
- Ultra sound therapy: It is similar to that of laser light therapy but the difference lies in that it uses shock waves instead of light waves.
- Hot or cold therapy: Direct application of hot and cold packs reduce the symptoms and provide a soothing effect. Usually, this can be done readily on yourself at home.
Prevention Tips For Slipped Disc
As there are various causes of back injury, promoting awareness among the general public on how to avoid or prevent hurting the back is extremely esential.
- Education – Awareness must be spread among the people, especially labors, that weight must not be carried more than one’s capacity. Poor sitting posture of office people and others who have to sit for a longer time should make to maintain and align a proper position so that it does not causes disc degradation.
- Exercise – It is the most important practice that saves everyone from various problems. The list of 8 best exercises for slipped disc mentioned below can help you after injury and can help prevent further disc degeneration or related problems.
Promising therapies of future
Researches are carried out by different scientists and medical professionals to induce certain therapies for curing some diseases. Therapies are mentioned below:
- Stem cell therapy: It is a technique in which certain adult stem cells are induced in the affected region to treat the diseased tissue. Stem cells have an efficient differentiation capacity and can divide into the cells in which they are implanted. Medical researchers claim that stem cells will be able to cure diabetes, cancer, Huntington’s disease and neurological diseases in near future. Moreover, before the clinical implication of this therapy it is necessary to understand further these stem cells and what would be there interaction with the diseased or degenerated tissue.
- Artificial disc replacement: A research was carried out in which 350 affected people got their disc replaced because the disc was progressing to degeneration. This surgery showed influential results in 50 patients, others were showing slow recovery and only 12 of them needed a re-operation. Therefore, this therapy helps in curing this disease for a longer span of time. More advancement in this technique would result in world wide acceptance of this technique to treat slipped disc.
8 Best Exercises For Slipped Disc In Lower Back
Our spinal cord is supported by a number of muscles. Relevant exercises help relieve the pain and reduce the symptoms. Muscle exercises of those muscles associated with the affected area is necessary. Patients must know the region that has a slipped disc and then opt for exercises related to that muscle. The list of best exercises for slipped disc are mentioned as follows:
- Abdominal Isometrics – It can be performed either on floor, mat or bed. This exercise involves moving your lower back towards the surface at which you are performing this exercise. Leg movement must be reduced in this exercise and stomach muscles must be made active. This reduces pain in lower back because of the attachment of abdominal muscles to the lower side of vertebral column. Ten repetitions are effective.
- Crunches – Lie on a flat surface with knees bend. Cross your arm under your head, raise your head and chest in such a manner that your rib cage curl interiorly towards your backbone. Perform this exercise slowly and gradually. In the beginning perform fewer crunches and repeat it daily and increase the number of turns as you gain strength.
- Lower back extension – Lie in an upside down position, raise your upper body with the help of elbow and hold up yourself in elevated position for a short span of time and then slowly lower down. Please make sure that during this exercise you do not raise your pelvis girdle (hip region).
- Bilateral knee to the chest: Lay down on a flat surface and draw your knee towards your abdominal region, repeat it for 5 times and then switch leg. You can also increase the number of turns each time you repeat it.
- Iso-hip flexion: Lay down over a flat surface and draw your knees towards your chest region in a 90 degree position with your stomach. Place your hands over your knees and then exert your hand pressure to lower your knee. Then utilize the knee pressure to resist the downward movement of your legs, in all both movements should just exert pressure and allow no movements. This position should be maintained for few seconds and then lowered slowly and gradually.
- Air bike: Sit on a chair with your chest and shoulders supported. Align your knees and feet together and then bring them towards your body and perform a pedaling motion in air then repeat the same motion while moving your knees farther away from body. Follow ten repetitions each time and increase its number as you gain strength.
Ham string stretch: Lie on a flat surface with your knees bend, place your hands under your knees and then slightly pull your leg towards your chest, repeat it with other leg. This exercise must involve a stretch over lower thigh muscle.
- Lumbar roll: Lie on a flat surface with your knee bent and your feet lying on the floor then move your legs together towards the right side and then towards your left side. Repeating these movements 5 times on each side.
The above mentioned best exercises for slipped disc can be followed but if pain increases or muscle pain is persisting then quit these exercises right away. These exercises not only help in reducing the pain but they also activate efficient muscle movement. Along with these exercise tips, proper body postures must be also maintained to prevent further disc damages.