October 1, 2020 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

How Do You Know A Disk Has Ruptured?:

By Dr. Rojeh Melikian

Golfers are hardly strangers to back pain. Most, in fact, come to anticipate it at some point in their lives. However, when Mark took a swing one afternoon, he knew something was different. This time the pain in his back was more severe and it radiated all the way down his right leg. Not knowing what else to do, he limped through the rest of the course and went home. A few days later, the pain increased to the point where he could no longer manage, and Mark went to the emergency room. His MRI showed a ruptured disc affecting one of the nerves traveling to his legs.

Having a ruptured or herniated disc (also called a slipped disc) can be very painful, but how can you differentiate this from pain caused by other conditions? The key to this lies in understanding how the disc rupture can affect your nerves.

The human spine consists of bones called vertebrae stacked on top of one another in a configuration that supports the weight of your body and protects your spinal cord and nerves. In between each set of bones is a disc which acts as a shock absorber. Each disc is composed of an outer shell of strong material and an inner core of a jelly-like substance called the nucleus pulposus. As a disc ages or becomes damaged due to trauma, you may develop a hole in the outer ring, allowing some of that jelly-like nucleus pulposus to escape and squeeze out. For a quick visualization, imagine what happens when you squeeze a jelly donut and see the jelly squirt out the hole in the side. 

The herniated disc can affect nerves roots in one of two ways. The first and most obvious mechanism is through sheer pressure. As the disc ruptures and the nucleus pulposus squirts into your spinal canal, it can pin your nerve roots up against the borders of your spinal canal, which is made of bones and tough ligaments, causing physical trauma to the nerve roots. In addition, the chemical make-up of the nucleus pulposus is very irritating to nerves and causes a large inflammatory response when it contacts a nerve root. This explains why even small disc herniations, which do not exert a lot of physical pressure on nerve roots, can still be extremely painful.

Symptoms will vary depending on the location of the ruptured disc. A ruptured disc in your neck may cause pain around your neck, shoulder blade, or running down

your arm. Disc rupture in your low back can cause low back pain and sciatica (buttock, and leg pain that shoots down either leg). Some patients describe it as electricity or feeling like their leg is on fire. Other symptoms include pins and needles or numbness and tingling. More severe disc ruptures can result in weakness in the muscles in your arms or legs as a result of pressure on the nerves controlling those muscles. In extreme cases, they can cause loss of control over your bowel and bladder. Your pain will tend to increase with coughing or sneezing and with sitting down.

In order to make the diagnosis, your doctor will perform a history and physical exam to see if your symptoms are consistent with a ruptured disc. If appropriate, an MRI of your neck or back will show the exact location and size of the herniation.

With the goal of relieving discomfort and preventing any permanent injury to your nerves, treatments range from medications and physical therapy to epidural steroid injections or surgery. Depending on the location and size of the disc, surgical intervention – ideally performed by a spine surgeon experienced in microscopic techniques – may consist of removing only the piece of the disc that has herniated or removing the entire disc. 

The key is getting a proper diagnosis early, so your doctor can determine which treatment will prevent your condition from worsening. As with most injuries, the sooner you take care of a herniated disc, the more likely you’ll be able to recover without lasting pain or damage.

in News
Related Posts

LA County Breweries, Wineries Given Green-Light to Reopen

October 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

LA County Board of Supervisors approves reopening in 3-2 vote By Kerry Slater LA County has given breweries and wineries...

Cafe Closes Its Doors at Santa Monica Place Location

October 1, 2020

October 1, 2020

Italian cafe in Santa Monica Place appears to have closed, though signage remains By Toi Creel Ugo Café in Santa...

Edify TV: Avoiding a ‘Twindemic’

September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Local officials are trying to avoid a double dose of hospitalizations from the flu and coronavirus being coined a ‘Twindemic.’...

Edify TV: Westside Colleges to Remain Remote for Foreseeable Future

September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Westside college campuses, closed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, will likely remain closed for the foreseeable future. Learn more in this...

BREAKING: Santa Monica City Council Approves Miramar Expansion

September 30, 2020

September 30, 2020

Project moves forward by 4-2 vote By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica City Council has approved plans that have been in...

Santa Monica Walk to End Alzheimer’s

September 29, 2020

September 29, 2020

Alzheimer’s Association encouraging residents to walk in small groups amid COVID-19 The Alzheimer’s Association is inviting Santa Monica residents to...

Lawsuit Filed Against Plaza Development

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

Slow-growth group says City is violating Surplus Land Act By Sam Catanzaro A slow-growth group has filed a lawsuit to...

City Of Santa Monica Being Sued Over Proposed Plaza Project: Santa Monica Beat – September, 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Santa Monica Being Sued Over Proposed Plaza Project. * LA Street...

Santa Monica Police Make Additional Arrests in Looting of REI

September 28, 2020

September 28, 2020

Marques Miles and Misty Jones arrested by Santa Monica Police Department Santa Monica police recently made additional arrests of two...

OpEd: The Miramar Project Will Be a New Architectural Jewel

September 27, 2020

September 27, 2020

The Miramar Hotel has been a central part of Santa Monica’s history and an integral part of the community for...

Edify TV: Trident Center Redevelopment

September 25, 2020

September 25, 2020

The Westside’s Trident Center is getting a major overhaul and new name as part of a flurry of development in...

Miramar Project to go Before City Council Tuesday

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

Councilmember Gleam Davis asks City Attorney whether she should rescue self from vote  By Sam Catanzaro  Santa Monica lawmakers will...

SMa.r.t. Column: Needed, A Heart Transplant

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

We have written about adaptive reuse in previous columns and have postulated that with proper incentives, the existing one, two...

Edify TV: Boulders Blocking Westside Encampment

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

City officials recently removed boulders placed on sidewalks by some Westside residents to prevent the formation of a homeless encampment....

Should Council Member Davis Recuse Herself From Voting? Santa Monica Beat – September, 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

September 24, 2020

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes. * Should Council Member Davis Recuse Herself From Voting? * Increases In...