Disk Injuries And Herniations
The back and neck are made up of bones called vertebrae that protect the spinal cord. The top seven vertebrae are called the cervical vertebrae and are located in the neck. There are 12 vertebrae in the chest area, known as the thoracic vertebrae, and five in the lower back, called the lumbar vertebrae.
The vertebrae are separated by spongy disks that keep the spine flexible and act as tiny shock absorbers. These disks are made up of a tough outer layer called the annulus, and a soft inner layer known as the nucleus. If a disk becomes damaged, for example in an accident or as the result of repetitive motions, it can bulge abnormally into the spinal canal. This is known as a bulging disk. In more severe cases, the nucleus of the disk can break all the way through the annulus and impact nerves in the spinal canal. This condition is known as a herniated disk, which is also sometimes referred to as a slipped disk.
Bulging or herniated disks can occur anywhere along the spine. A bulging disk is less severe than a herniated disk because it typically does not impact any nerves. However, a bulging disk is a serious medical condition that can be extremely painful and limit a person’s range of motion. Bulging disks will generally require medical attention to alleviate pain and reduce the risk that the condition will worsen into a herniation.
A herniated disk is a severe and often debilitating injury. Herniated disks typically produce pressure on the nerves surrounding the spine and cause considerable pain in the neck, back, legs or other areas where the nerve travels. Other symptoms of a herniated disk can include numbness, weakness and tingling in the area of the injury or along the affected nerve. If the herniation is in the lower back area, it is common for a patient to experience trouble controlling his or her bladder or bowels. Depending on the extent and location of the herniation, corrective surgery is sometimes required.
Damage to any part of the spine is very serious, and anyone who has suffered an injury to the neck or back should seek immediate medical attention. In many cases, the extent of damage to the neck or back is not readily apparent after the initial accident or injury. These conditions can quickly worsen, and any delay in properly diagnosing or treating a severe neck or back injury can lead to dire consequences for the victim.