A disc injury is actually often a very misleading term for many conditions to which it is applied. When one hears the term herniated disc, they assume that the condition was caused by some accident or trauma to the spine. While this does occur in some cases, the majority of herniated discs actually come about from either simple spinal degeneration or idiopathic reasons.
This article will cover the reasons why actual injury may occur to the intervertebral structures. However, we will also look at the many more common scenarios in which herniation or degeneration takes place without any trauma at all.
A herniated disc implies that the person was injured by some violent activity which left damage to the spinal column. This is certainly a reality for many victims of car accidents, worked-related incidents, sports injuries and simple slip and fall occurrences.
Trauma can indeed cause a herniated disc, as well as a host of other back injuries, such as a fractured vertebra, muscular tears and even overall spinal instability. However, many care providers use the term injury to describe any disc bulge, herniation or rupture. This nomenclature is even sometimes utilized when talking about discs affected by degenerative disc disease.
Most herniated discs, and virtually all degenerated discs, occur due to completely normal and expected spinal aging processes. They are not injuries any more than gray hair or wrinkles. They are merely a part of our human lifecycle and occur in the majority of the population.
Remember that these degenerative processes occur in everyone, including people who have actually been injured. This explains why so many people discover herniations after an accident when they receive medical care, yet evidence exists dating the herniation as being present for years prior to the traumatic incident. Unfortunately, this evidence is often purposefully ignored for litigation purposes or to get the patient into profitable treatment.
If a herniated disc exists, does that mean that it is causing pain? The assumption is yes, of course, but the reality is actually quite the opposite. Most herniated discs are completely asymptomatic and do not cause any symptoms at all. In fact, a great number of herniated discs are never even discovered or are found by coincidence during diagnostic imaging performed for an unrelated condition.
Even without experiencing any back pain, there is a good chance that you might have one or more bulging discs in your spine right now. How do I know? Well, research conclusively shows no correlation between disc herniation and the incidence of chronic pain. Just as many people have disc abnormalities with no pain compared to those who demonstrate herniation and coincidental or directly enacted pain. Additionally, lots of people have terrible intractable pain, yet no disc irregularities at all.
Discs which are actually injured by trauma can indeed hurt. This should be no surprise. Trauma to any part of your body is likely to cause pain. However, the pain will go away in time, just like most injuries.
Painful spinal discs will also typically resolve on their own. The reality of herniated discs shows that most will completely heal in 2 to 8 weeks time, even without medical treatment. Herniated discs which occur due to idiopathic reasons or spinal degeneration are unlikely to cause any pain at all. While this is not written it stone, it is a good general rule, supported to volumes of clinical data.
It is wise to treat any injury by providing it with proper medical attention. However, that does not excuse you from being responsible for your own health and wellbeing. If you are led blindly into a long-term herniated disc treatment routine, which does nothing at all but drain your bank account, you must place some of the blame on yourself.
It is crucial for all herniated disc patients to learn the facts about injured discs and how to best treat the condition. Luckily, there is a growing facet of the back pain industry which now embraces effective and conservative herniated disc care.
Just remember to research wisely and do not simply follow any one opinion without question. If you do, you may be bound to become one of the poor souls who suffer needlessly and might even end up a victim of failed disc surgery.