Herniated disc, also referred to as a slipped disc, is a condition that happens when there is an issue with one of the discs that act as cushions between the vertebrae in the spinal column. The discs are like tiny donuts: They have a gel-like interior and a tougher outer shell. If there is some type of damage to those discs, for example a sudden trauma to the neck, the outer shell will tear and the gel-like material within the disc can begin leaking. When the disc is drained or partially drained of its contents, it's no longer able to cushion the vertebrae properly. This can result in the vertebrae rubbing together uncomfortably and may also cause irritation of nearby nerves.
Although some people who have a herniated disc don't have symptoms, most people experience considerable pain. The pain is typically centered directly above the herniated disc but it can sometimes travel into other parts of the body. For example, it's possible for a herniated disc in the neck to cause pain to your arms and legs. Some people also experience numbness or tingling in the arms and legs.
The cause can vary, but for many people disc herniation develops as a result of disc degeneration due to aging. Injury can also cause herniated discs. Genetics may play a role in the development of herniated discs, as well. People who are overweight or obese may be at risk for herniated discs.
Although non-surgical solutions like rest and prescription medication can offer some short-term relief, sometimes a surgical procedure may be needed and can help alleviate the pain caused by herniated disc. In herniated disc surgery, the disc will be removed, either in part or in whole. A microdiscectomy procedure can help relieve this pain or a lumbar fusion procedure may be done to help alleviate further pain.
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