A herniated disc or bulged disc is an age-related condition that occurs due to the wear and tear of the annulus. Discs are small cushions situated between each vertebra in the spinal cord. They absorb shock and also allow for slight mobility in the spine. Herniated discs are a common cause of back pain that may limit your general productivity and affect your quality of life. Pain resulting from a herniated disc can be intense, and sometimes patients experience other symptoms such as muscle weakness and numbness. Fortunately, Frisco regenerative medicine can help ease symptoms and prevent complications such as bladder dysfunction.
What is a herniated disc?
The spine comprises a series of small bones called vertebrae separated by small-like pillows or discs, which also cushion the spine. The tough outer layer of the discs – annulus, covers the soft inner disc contents. Bulged discs occur when a fragment of the disc nucleus is pushed out of the annulus through a torn or weakened annulus. The limited space in the spinal canal may not contain both the slipped disc and spinal nerves. For this reason, the herniated disc presses on spinal nerves, producing severe pain. Discs can slip in any part of the spine, including the neck, but are more common in the lumbar spine (lower back). You will experience pain depending on what part of the spine is affected.
What causes herniated discs?
As you advance in age, the disc materials naturally degenerate, and the annulus becomes weaker. As the aging effects continue, any awkward movement that results in strain can cause a disc to slip or bulge. However, a single severe injury can cause a herniated disc. Below are the risk factors that make certain individuals more vulnerable to this condition.
· Excess body weight. Extra body weight exerts added pressure on the disks in your lower back, putting you at risk for a herniated disc in the lumbar spine.
· Genetics. A predisposition of a herniated disc is present in families with several affected members.
· Occupation. Jobs that are physically demanding, such as those requiring frequent lifting, bending, and pulling, increase your risk for a herniated disc.
· Smoking. Cigarettes contain nicotine which causes constriction of the blood vessel, limiting blood flow in your body. The lessened supply of oxygen, as a result, accelerates disc degeneration.
How does regenerative medicine treat a herniated disc?
Regenerative medicine involves using stem cell injection, prolotherapy, and platelet-rich plasma to address herniated discs. These treatment methods use orthobiologics, a patient’s cellular products such as healing cells derived from the bone marrow. For example, stem cell therapy may be an option for patients who do not wish for invasive procedures such as spine surgery. Stem cell therapy allows for the regrowth of cartilage and can facilitate the body’s natural healing. The injections are minimally invasive and usually require ultrasound or fluoroscopy, which guides the doctor to deliver the cellular content in the right place.
To learn more about how regenerative medicine can minimize the symptoms of a herniated disc, consult with your doctor at Spine and Joint Physicians of Frisco.