HAPPENS WHEN A DISC RUPTURES?
What causes a disc to rupture?
What are the symptoms of a ruptured disc?
How is a ruptured lumbar disc diagnosed?
When the outer lining (annulus) of a disc "tears," its
center (the nucleus) may rupture and press a spinal
nerve(s) against the bony surface of a vertebra.
This condition is often referred to as a ruptured
disc. You cold think of it as having a tube of
toothpaste with a crack in it. Exert pressure on
the cracked tube (disc annulus) and toothpaste
(disc nucleus) flows out the crack. Even pressure
from everyday activities can push the disc’s
nucleus through the ruptured annulus and pinch
a spinal nerve root (s).
What Causes a Disc to Rupture?
As we’ve discussed, your lumbar spine supports
the weight of your entire upper body and is under
stress every day. Simple "wear and tear" or
the effects of aging can contribute to a disc rupture.
In some cases, the rupture happens during the course
of normal, everyday activities. In other cases,
it occurs as the result of a specific injury. Usually
there is no way to "prevent" it from
occurring, however, you can reduce your risk by
staying in good physical condition and by using
proper lifting techniques.
What are the Symptoms of a Ruptured Disc?
When a lumbar spinal nerve is pinched, you may
experience pain in your lower back, pain or numbness
in you legs(s), weakness in your legs or feet,
or numbness in one or both of your feet. The pain
can come from the pressure on the nerve, the swelling
within the nerve (caused by the pressure) or injury
to the nerve itself. Taking pain medication or
drugs which reduce the swelling may provide relief,
but healing may not occur as long as the nerve
itself remains pinched. It’s similar to having
your finger caught in a door. An aspirin may help
to ease the pain, but healing won’t begin
until the door is opened and your finger is no
longer being pinched.
How is a Ruptured Lumbar Disc Diagnosed
The diagnosis of a ruptured lumbar disc is based
- your history of back and/or leg pain
- a physical
examination of your back and legs, and
tests, which may include spine x-rays, an MRI
scan, a CAT scan or a myelogram. (Each of these
examinations has a specific purpose.
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