Herniated Disc Pain
Patients may feel herniated disc pain when anatomic structures of the spine that are supplied with pain-sensitive nerves are affected. Patients may feel pain as a result of disease in their intervertebral discs when the inside or outside of this structure are compromised, due to wear and tear or disease. These spinal discs may become diseased when their outer wall becomes thinned and worn out, or the water/gelatin mixture of material inside the disc - that keeps the disc inflated, loses volume. If the inner material of the disc loses a significant amount of its volume, the disc may shrink in size, gradually deflating like a days old balloon. Problems involved with shrinkage of the discs due to loss of volume in its nucleus include strain of the facet joints and ligaments, as well as the development of osteophytes along the surfaces where that degenerated disc contacts connecting vertebral bodies. Problems involved with the wearing out of the outer membrane of the discs, known as the annulus fibrosus, include bulging and tearing of the disc at the point where the disc has become narrow. Due to the narrowing of the disc, it may actually bulge outwards, which results in a bulging disc, or tear from the inside out, causing a herniated disc. When discs do become torn, the resulting hole that is opened up may cause some of the inner contents of the disc to project outwards, possibly impacting the nerve roots or spinal ligaments behind it.
Patients may or may not experience herniated disc pain, depending on the location of the tear. If the tear were to occur towards the front or sides of the disc, then the patient would likely not experience back pain symptoms, as the materials from the nucleus would not impact the ligaments and nerve roots. If the tear occurred towards the back of the disc, and the expelled contents from the disc nucleus constrict the ligaments or nerve, than the patient may experience extreme pain.
The pathology of the spine as a result of a bulging disc or a herniated disc are nearly identical. Both may involve compression of the nerve roots or ligaments. There may be more long-term complications related to herniated discs, because of the difficulty of the body reabsorbing materials expelled from the disc, even after the disc has healed itself.
Many people with back pain actually wish they were diagnosed with a herniated disc that was causing their symptoms, because it is at least a problem that can be treated once and for all, with an operation to remove the entire disc, or a part of the disc involved with impacting the nerve root. Treatments involved with treating herniated discs surgically include microdiscectomy and spinal fusion. Nonsurgical treatments for a herniated disc include chiropractic manipulations and exercise. The idea behind exercises for to treat discs involve strengthening the muscles that support the spine, to take some of the strain off of the area of the spine where the discs absorb compression. Back pain exercises for herniated disc pain include the side plank, extension exercise, partial curl, pelvic tilt, and cat and camel.