Disc herniation is usually due to age-related degeneration of the outer ring, known as the anulus fibrosus, although trauma, lifting injuries, or straining have been implicated as well. Tears are almost always postero-lateral (on the back of the sides) owing to the presence of the posterior longitudinal ligament in the spinal canal. This tear in the disc ring may result in the release of chemicals causing inflammation, which may directly cause severe pain even in the absence of nerve root compression.
Disc herniations are normally a further development of a previously existing disc protrusion, a condition in which the outermost layers of the anulus fibrosus are still intact, but can bulge when the disc is under pressure. In contrast to a herniation, none of the central portion escapes beyond the outer layers. Most minor herniations heal within several weeks. Anti-inflammatory treatments for pain associated with disc herniation, protrusion, bulge, or disc tear are generally effective. Severe herniations may not heal of their own accord and may require surgery. The condition may be referred to as a slipped disc, but this term is not accurate as the spinal discs are firmly attached between the vertebrae and cannot “slip” out of place.
Other symptoms may include sensory changes such as numbness, tingling, paresthesia, and motor changes such as muscular weakness, paralysis, and affection of reflexes. If the herniated disc is in the lumbar region, the patient may also experience sciatica due to irritation of one of the nerve roots of the sciatic nerve. Unlike a pulsating pain or pain that comes and goes, which can be caused by muscle spasm, pain from a herniated disc is usually continuous or at least is continuous in a specific position of the body.
It is possible to have a herniated disc without any pain or noticeable symptoms, depending on its location. If the extruded nucleus pulposus material doesn’t press on soft tissues or nerves, it may not cause any symptoms. A small-sample study examining the cervical spine in symptom-free volunteers has found focal disc protrusions in 50% of participants, which suggests that a considerable part of the population can have focal herniated discs in their cervical region that do not cause noticeable symptoms.
A prolapsed disc in the lumbar spine can cause radiating nerve pain. This type of pain is usually felt in the lower extremities or groin area. Radiating nerve pain caused by a prolapsed disc can also cause bowel and bladder incontinence.
Typically, symptoms are experienced only on one side of the body. If the prolapse is very large and presses on the nerves within the spinal column or the cauda equina, both sides of the body may be affected, often with serious consequences. Compression of the cauda equina can cause permanent nerve damage or paralysis. The nerve damage can result in loss of bowel and bladder control as well as sexual dysfunction. This disorder is called cauda equina syndrome. Other complications include chronic pain.
Most authors favour degeneration of the intervertebral disc as the major cause of spinal disc herniation and cite trauma as a low cause. Disc degeneration occurs both with degenerative disc disease and aging. With degeneration, the contents of the disc, the nucleus pulposus and anulus fibrosus, are exposed to altered loads. Specifically, the nucleus becomes fibrous and stiff and less able to bear load. The load is transferred to the anulus, which, if it fails to bear the increased load, can lead to the development of fissures. If the fissures reach the periphery of the anulus, the nuclear material can pass through as a disc herniation.
Disc herniations can result from general wear and tear, such as constant sitting or squatting, driving, or a sedentary lifestyle. However, herniations can also result from the lifting of heavy loads. Professional athletes, especially those playing contact sports such as American football, are prone to disc herniations as well. Within athletic contexts, herniation is often the result of sudden blunt impacts against, or abrupt bending or torsional movements of, the lower back. When the spine is straight, such as in standing or lying down, internal pressure is equalized on all parts of the discs. While sitting or bending to lift, internal pressure on a disc can move from 17 psi (lying down) to over 300 psi (lifting with a rounded back). Herniation of the contents of the disc into the spinal canal often occurs when the anterior side (stomach side) of the disc is compressed while sitting or bending forward, and the contents (nucleus pulposus) get pressed against the tightly stretched and thinned membrane (anulus fibrosus) on the posterior side (back side) of the disc. The combination of membrane thinning from stretching and increased internal pressure (200 to 300 psi) results in the rupture of the confining membrane. The jelly-like contents of the disc then move into the spinal canal, pressing against the spinal nerves, which may produce intense and potentially disabling pain and other symptoms.
Several genes are also associated with intervertebral disc degeneration. Probable candidate genes like type I collagen (sp1 site), type IX collagen, vitamin D receptor, aggrecan, asporin, MMP3, interleukin-1, and interleukin-6 polymorphisms have been implicated in disc degeneration. Mutation in genes coding for proteins involved in the regulation of the extracellular matrix, such as MMP2 and THBS2, has been demonstrated to contribute to lumbar disc herniation.
At Bhagwati Ayurveda, we are providing very effective and most successful treatment for Slip disc or herniated disc. With our vast experience in treating Spine related conditions, today we are successfully dealing even post-surgical recurrence cases.
The treatment comprises of Detoxification and rejuvenation through Ayurvedic Panchakarma therapy, administration of researched medicines internally.
The therapies like Abhyanga swedam, Nasyam, Pathrapotala swedam, Choornapinda swedam, Pizhichil, Shirodhara, Kadeevasthy, Greevavasthy, Navarakizhi, Vasti etc. are done as per the necessity and condition. These therapies are directed towards relieving the inflammatory changes, releasing the spasms and nerve compressions in the affected area, strengthening the supportive tissues holding the spine, nourishing the joints by improving the circulation. Usually, the treatment period is 4 – 5 weeks according to the severity of the disease.
In four to six weeks, the majority of patients find their symptoms are relieved, without surgery. If patient can come for the treatment in early stages, even total cure without recurrence is also possible.
Exercises that enhance back strength may also be used to prevent back injuries. Back exercises include the prone press-ups, upper back extension, transverse abdominus bracing, and floor bridges. If pain is present in the back, it can mean that the stabilization muscles of the back are weak and a person needs to train the trunk musculature. Other preventative measures are to lose weight and to not work oneself past fatigue. Signs of fatigue include shaking, poor coordination, muscle burning, and loss of the transverse abdominal brace. Heavy lifting should be done with the legs performing the work, and not the back.
Swimming is a common tool used in strength training. The usage of lumbarsacral support belts may restrict movement at the spine and support the back during lifting.