The “interruption” has its own variables, including vertebra L4 and vertebra L5, and vertebra C5 through C7. Although C5 to C7 are part of the neck, they also belong to or are associated with other sections of the back. When medical professionals begin to look for slipped discs, they usually look at the possible etiology, including the possibility of strains, trauma, malformations, degeneration, weakness, and heavy lifting that can damage the back and neck ligaments, causing strains and sprains
After considering the etiology of the problem, they take into consideration the pathophysiology, including the possibility of “nucleus pulposus.” The medium connects to the spine and there is a good chance that it can put pressure on the spinal nerves, the roots, or even the spinal cord, causing pain. If the spinal cord is compressed, it can restrict the nerves and roots, causing a variety of symptoms, including reduced motor function, numbness, and even pain.
The evaluation usually focuses on the lumbroscral area, which can cause short-term or long-term pain in the lower back. Pain in this area does not stay where it started, it tends to radiate through the buttocks and even down the back of the legs. It is not uncommon for people with this condition to experience numbness and weakness in the legs and possibly the feet, so ambulation can be tried.
Another place in the lower back where doctors often look for slipped discs is through the lumbar curves. These are found in the lower back, which is a common problem for patients with an abnormal curvature of the spine.
When the cervical vertebrae are considered, the symptoms are very different. Doctors look for a stiff neck, numbness in the arms, weakness, and possible tingling in the fingers and hands. If the pain radiates to the arms and hands, there is an evaluative focus on a possible slipped disc in the neck. Because the cervical vertebrae are so close to the origin of the spinal cord, there are other symptoms that can accompany the one mentioned above. Weakness can develop in unlikely places, such as higher portions of the neck and even at the base of the skull.
When doctors are considering a back pain problem, they will perform a physical exam and possibly a series of physical tests. These tests may consist of basic tendon reflex ability, EMG radiography, cerebrospinal fluid tests, MRI or CT scan. The results of these tests can be compared with the results of previous tests to determine if there are structural or inflammatory changes. By using EMG scans, your doctor can determine if spinal nerves are involved in the irritant. X-rays can be used to determine if there is any narrowing or expansion in the disc space. A myelogram can be used to determine if there is any compression of the spinal cord. This is usually done in the event that a patient reports numbness of the extremities.
How Slipped Discs Are Managed
At the first sign of a back injury, doctors often provide pain relief treatment. This allows the patient to feel comfortable while the doctor isolates the reason for the pain. The pain management regimen will depend on the patient’s history and metabolic variations. A doctor can increase the fiber intake of the patient to ensure that pain management medications do not cause constipation.
Additional treatment methods will focus on symptom relief. The use of heating pads, hot wet compresses, and occasionally cold therapy may be recommended. NSAIDs can be used to reduce inflammation in an attempt to control any compression on the nerves and muscular systems. Muscle relaxants may be prescribed in situations where there are muscle spasms or degenerative disorders of the muscles.
Orthopedic options may be recommended for short-term use. They are not recommended for long-term use because they can further aggravate the injury by weakening the muscle structures on which the back depends for stability.