The trunk of the matter

The trunk of the matter

Disk herniation often occurs as a result of age-related wear and tear also known as disk degeneration, writes Dr Subodh Shetty

Problems related to back pain can present a lot of challenges in day-to-day life. A bad sitting posture, lifting heavy weights, and standing for long hours can all lead to mild to severe back pain. However, a few back problems can also cause pain in the legs and arms along with fatigue and weakness. A common reason for back problems is a herniated disc in the spinal area that irritates a nerve close to it. Depending on the location of a herniated disc, the symptoms can vary from
numbness in arms or legs along with weakness.
The spine is made up of a stack of individual bones and herniated disc refers to a problem with one of the rubbery cushions that sit between these bones. Sometimes a slipped disc or a herniated disc in the spine shows no symptoms at all and requires a spinal X-ray to be diagnosed. If a person experiences discomfort in the neck or back that travels down the legs and causes a tingling feeling, it is critical to see a doctor. Disc herniation often occurs as a result of age-related wear and tear also known as disc degeneration. Ageing reduces the flexibility in the discs and makes them more susceptible to tearing and rupturing with a small strain or twist. It is extremely difficult to pinpoint a single cause of disc herniation but sometimes when back muscles are used to lift heavy weights the disc in the spinal area ruptures.
A few simple steps can help in the prevention of spinal discs:
Exercise: Include a workout that helps in strengthening the trunk muscles as that will lead to stabilising and supporting the spine.
Maintain good posture: This will help in reducing pressure on the spine and discs. Try to keep the back straight and aligned especially while sitting for long periods. While lifting heavy objects make sure the legs do most of the work, not the back.
Maintain a healthy body mass index: Excess body weight can put stress on the spine making it more prone to herniated discs. Adopt a healthy diet to keep the weight under control.
Physical therapy and lifestyle changes can prove to be extremely helpful in reducing pain and discomfort. The key to effectively managing a herniated disc is to take muscle relaxants and take a few steps to minimise the activities and movements that cause discomfort.
Treatment
The treatment procedure may consist of several stages depending on the condition of the problem. Some patients with severe disc problems or herniated discs may require surgery. If conservative treatment options fail then the patients are suggested to undergo surgery. During the surgery, the protruding portion of the disc is removed. A herniated disc in the spine can cause discomfort and may also interfere with day-to-day activities. Fortunately, conservative treatment usually helps in reducing the symptoms but if the pain is severe one should seek further treatments. Keeping a healthy lifestyle that combines physical activity and a good sleep routine will help in keeping such problems at bay.
(The author is an orthopaedic surgeon.)

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