Herniated Lumbar Disc
Herniated discs are blamed for far more lower back pain incidents
than any other injury. In order to describe a herniated lumbar disc, let's first look at the anatomy of the
An intervertebral disc is composed of 2 main parts: an outer ring, called the annulus fibrosis, and an inner
portion, called the nucleus pulposus. The outer ring is composed of thick, tough fibrocartilage and encases the
nucleus pulposus. The end result is a flexible yet durable disc that is capable of safely transmitting large
amounts of force between spinal vertebrae.
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In a herniated lumbar disc, the outer annulus fibrosis tears or ruptures, allowing the nucleus pulposus to bulge
out. Due to the thick surrounding connective tissue, the jelly-like material in the nucleus does not squirt
everywhere as if the disc was popped. Usually herniated discs start as a "bulge" (just some material moving out of
the disc space) and will progress in severity as more and more of the nucleus pulposus squeezes out of the disc
center as daily activities create pressure in the disc.
By the way, the basis for inversion table therapy is that by applying some traction (negative pressure) to the
disc, a vacuum effect is created in the disc, making the bulge in the herniated lumbar disc
actually reverse in direction and flow back into the disc.
At any rate, herniated discs are incredibly common. Most people don't know this, but as I described in another
article on this site, but about university research suggests that 60% of the pain-free population has a herniated
disc. There's a good chance that the herniated disc you have now existed long before the lower back pain you are
currently dealing with.
One interesting thing about herniated lumbar discs is that often the disc won't even be touching the nerve, but
still be painful. The presence of disc fluid in the spinal space can sometimes send body systems haywire, creating
a painful inflammation response at that level in the back. This is one of the reasons why ibuprofen can be
effective for back pain. Other inflammatories are also effective too, in the short term at least.
The problem however is that whatever your body is trying to tell you about what is going on in your back is not
mediated by reducing the inflammation. This is why nearly everyone who gets cortisone injections ends up back in
pain within a few months. The pain is reduced until the cortisone shot wears off, but as soon as that
anti-inflammatory is gone, it is right back where it started.
One of the things considered of utmost importance in reducing complications from a herniated disc is to learn
proper lifting techniques. It is common to suggest that one should pick up objects by bending the knees rather than
at the hips, but this certainly is not the case. No matter what position is elected, the most important thing is
maintaining a neutral spine (the spine position demonstrated by standing up tall with good posture).
As long as this is maintained, the spine will be stable, regardless if you bend at the knees or the hips. For
example, the way a golfer picks up a golf ball (a 1-legged, stiff-knee lift)is a very low-stress way to pick a very
light object off of the ground.
In addition to implementing proper lifting technique, I strongly recommend picking up the free book,
The 7-Day Back Pain Cure to get more information on powerful and novel treatments for herniated lumbar
Is your back
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