A herniated disc injury can occur from any significant trauma to the spine. There are endless varieties of causative reasons for experiencing a disc herniation, including injurious processes and completely normal degeneration. Herniations are one of the most common of all spinal irregularities. There is, however, a higher incidence of this spinal abnormality in people who work in manual labor jobs which involve bending, lifting and carrying heavy objects.
This resource section will detail the incidence of traumatic injury enacting disc prolapses. We will explore the most common locations for herniations to occur and the processes which cause them.
Herniated discs occur when the soft internal center of the intervertebral disc, called the nucleus pulposus, pushes against the tough outer disc wall, known as the annulus fibrosus, causing it to bulge. The disc bulges in a particular direction, losing symmetry and height. This breakdown of structural integrity can occur spontaneously from violent force placed upon a particular intervertebral level of the spine.
Intervertebral discs act as spinal shock absorbers, but even they have a limit on the force they can withstand. When that force becomes too great, a disc can suddenly bulge or rupture, creating a herniated disc condition. Read more about how a torn spinal disc is created and its effects on the patient.
The following topical discussions detail various types of spinal disc injury and their common locations within the vertebral column.
Herniated disc C4-C5 is a protrusion in the middle cervical region.
Herniated disc C5-C6 is one of the most common cervical levels to experience intervertebral bulging.
Herniated disc C6-C7 represents a prolapse in the lower cervical spine.
Herniated disc C7-T1 occurs at the cervicothoracic juncture.
Whiplash herniated discs can occur due to severe spinal trauma.
Herniated disc L3-L4 is a middle lumbar herniation.
Pinched nerve herniated discs might affect neurological roots within the central canal, lateral recesses, foraminally or even extraforaminally.
Slip and fall herniated disc scenarios are commonplace and often result in civil litigation.
Herniated disc myelopathy describes a condition where an intervertebral pathology damages the spinal cord.
Herniated discs occur mostly in the lumbar and cervical areas of the spine. This is due to several reasons.
First, these are the vertebral levels which bend and flex the most during our daily activities. Also, many people demonstrate a genetic predisposition to developing disc conditions in these 2 regions.
The cervical spine features smaller, thinner discs which must still support the tremendous weight of the head. These discs are easier to injure than the larger structures in the middle back region. This is especially true when sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head is endured, such as in the case of whiplash.
The lumbar spine must endure the brunt of manual labor and is constantly being used to support our upright posture. Both of these factors make the lumbar area more prone to herniations than the middle spine.
Herniations which do occur in the thoracic spine are normally caused by specific accident related circumstances, since these discs are not known for developing the same level of degeneration as the cervical and lumbar spinal regions.
Traumatic causation of a disc herniation can occur from virtually any physical activity which places sudden or significant force on the spinal column. The most common causes of a disc injury include:
Car accidents can enact terrible trauma upon the spinal structures and might cause or contribute to a herniated disc.
Sports accidents often result in spinal injury and possible intervertebral herniation.
Falls are some of the leading causes of general back and neck injury.
Lifting heavy objects can cause or exacerbate intervertebral protrusions.
Bending or twisting at the waist might contribute to disc pathologies.
Work injuries, leading to disability claims, are often linked to herniated spinal discs.
Remember that most herniated discs do not occur from a specific and definitively identifiable injury. Most are the results of either idiopathic reasons or simple spinal degeneration.
The vast majority of herniations which are not due to specific trauma are asymptomatic and are unlikely to cause any pain at all. Herniations which do come from specific trauma are typically painful, but will usually resolve in 2 to 8 weeks, even without medical treatment.
Herniated discs are not usually the cause of chronic back pain, or neck pain, although they are commonly blamed for enacting it. In these cases, the cause of symptoms is misdiagnosed and the disc is simply acting as a scapegoat on which the pain is mistakenly blamed.
Learn more about herniated discs in teens, including how they occur and important diagnostic considerations.
Being diagnosed with a herniated disc can be a scary experience. We have all heard the horror stories about patients who have suffered greatly from their treatment-resistant disc pain conditions. However, this does not have to be your destiny.
Take time to learn the facts about herniated discs and see for yourself that disc abnormalities are not usually a big concern at all. Allowing the condition to get inside your mind and heart will definitely create substantial fear and will worsen and perpetuate any pain you are experiencing.
To counteract the nocebo effect of the diagnostic process for herniations and degenerative disc disease, I recommend knowledge therapy in addition to whatever physical treatments you might be considering. These simple techniques put you on the road to recovery, rather than the one way street to eternal suffering.