Disc Injury Causes Pain

by Dr. P. Carl Rafey 23. June 2014 12:37

Determining what is causing your  pain is important to determine treatment type, how long it will take you to get better and how best to “teach” you what is wrong.  Between each of your vertebrae, there is a disc that acts as a shock absorber.  These discs can be injured slowly over time, resulting in a bulging disc, or can be injured due to a single traumatic event causing a herniation.  The disc has to tear for each of these to happen and sometimes it doesn’t tear enough. This does not necessarily result in a herniation, but is generally very painful. 

The problem is many of these tears are missed on the MRI scan.  This is one of the reasons that a detailed analysis of imaging is critical, not just a reading of the report.   Understanding that the intervertebral disc can cause pain in the lower back and even the legs is paramount to good diagnostic skill.  What is most important is that you don’t need to have a pinched nerve to have pain in the buttocks or the back of the leg.  Recent research has determined that the disc can cause lower back and leg pain.  Treatment should be directed at reducing inflammation and restoring proper range of motion in the affected area.  Once the ranges of motion are complete and you can bend and twist properly, strengthening exercises should be added.

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The Spinal Column

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