Wednesday 8 September 2010

Slipped Disc Lower Back Pain

A prolapsed disc, or slipped disc is when a disc in the spinal column is ruptured or split causing it to leak the gel like contents into the vertebrae. Damaged discs can be extremely painful and can cause extreme pain in both the back and other areas of the body.
Slipped discs often occur in the lower back or lumbar part of the spine where the pressure on these discs is greatest. Slipped discs are much more common in men than women and tend to occur in people aged 30-50. Straining physical activity such ash heavy lifting without adequate stretching can cause a slipped disc as can sport or something as minor as simply bending over.
The spinal cord is comprised of twenty four vertebrae (individual disc shaped bones) which, sit on top of each other in a column. Each vertebrae is separated from the next by a disc of strong flexible tissue which enables the spine to move freely without friction or discomfort. The discs outer layer is rubber like and fibrous whilst the inner consistency is softer and like jelly. When a disc slips it is this inner substance which leaks out causing the disc to lose its padding and for nerves to become squashed and the spinal column to become painful.
A symptom of a slipped disc is back pain which can be chronic or mild. The pain may appear quickly without warning or build up and is often eased by lying flat. Movement, such coughing or sneezing can aggravate the pain.  As there are nerve endings within the spinal cord, pressure from the slipped disc may cause pain to be felt along the affected nerve strain so pain can be felt in the lower legs in addition to the back.
Treatments for slipped disc include painkiller medication. Anti-inflammatory painkillers such as Nurofen or Ibuprufen can work better than Paracetamol as they work to reduce any swelling that may be round the nerve.  Muscle relaxants such as diazepam can be prescribed by your doctor if the pain is particularly bad.
In general prolapsed discs tend to recover unaided within a couple of weeks although in some cases surgery is necessary.