Vertebral Disc problems are very painful. They haunt you with excruciating and shooting pain. Vertebral is a plate or disc of cartilage and fiber that contains a nucleus pulpous, a mass of white elastic fiber in its center situated between the vertebrae or bones of the spinal column. Disc problems tend to deteriorate with age. The deterioration or any injury or any stress can bring on painful disorder known as slipped disc, herniated disc, pinched nerve or ruptured disc. In the herniated disc when the disc ruptures or slips, the white elastic fibers protrude through the cartilage exerting pressure on the adjacent nerve root generating unbearable pain in the effected area.
A herniated disc can be completely painless at times, but the degenerative disc can produce intense pain. Degenerative means that the condition is likely to deteriorate with time. Most patients of degenerative disc will periodically experience continuous tolerable pain followed by increasing intense pain which will automatically go down after some time. It is a cyclic process. A patient with a pinched nerve will experience a radicular pain commonly known as nerve root pain, radiculopathy or sciatica pain and from the disc itself the patient will usually experience an axial pain. The sciatica nerve is the widest and longest nerve in the body running from the spinal column to the lower leg which branches in to two parts. It can be damaged due to different kinds of injury in the back, in pelvis and in the lower legs. Injury to the nerve generates a shooting pain from the thigh to the feet and the toes. Intense pain due to disc problems can immobilize you necessitating immediate attention of the doctor but it does not mean that intense pain is related to the amount of disc damage.
Diagnosis and Treatment
An accurate diagnosis of the disc problems is done through medical examination, X-rays and CT or MRI scan. These scans are very accurate in identifying whether the source of pain is from a pinched nerve or because of the disc space. The most common treatment is strict bed rest on a hard mattress placed over a hard board until the symptoms have subsided and non steroidal and anti inflammatory drugs. For severe pain flare ups oral steroids and injections may have to administered to reduce the inflammation and the pain. For a herniated disc patient physical therapy, exercise, gentle stretching, application of heat, ice and pain relieving medicines will relieve the effected portion of any pain. The pain can also be removed through surgery by removing herniated portion of the white elastic fibers protruding towards the adjacent nerve root. In the degenerative disc problem fusion surgery stops the motion of the painful portion of effected part thereby considerably reducing pain or artificial disc replacement is done. However most of the disc problems get better with passage of time and therefore surgery may not be needed, but if there is no relief then surgery is the best option.
Disc problems, Vertebral, slipped disc, herniated disc, pinched nerve or ruptured disc, degenerative disc, sciatica pain