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One Potential Cause of Back Pain: Ruptured Disc

Many people suffer from chronic back pain. Often times, this pain is the result of an injury or perhaps sports related and is not serious. In fact, most back pain and injuries will heal themselves over time with adequate care and rest. There are however, certain back and spinal injuries that may not be able to mend themselves and can make life almost unbearable. One such condition is having a ruptured disc.

A ruptured disc is when the spinal disc material located between the vertebrae basically ruptures or breaks open. This rupturing of the disc allows a gel like substance located within the disc to leak out. This can cause pain for several reasons. First and foremost, without proper disc material or padding between the vertebrae, one can experience sever nerve pain. This happens because the ruptured disc may press on several nerve routes contained within the spine. This can cause nerve pain down one or both legs, or can cause a condition known as sciatica. In addition to this nerve pain, a ruptured disc may also cause bone pain as the vertebrae were not meant to "rub" one another during movement. Spinal fluid may leak as well which can also cause pain. The amount of pain one experiences will vary from person to person and also depends upon the severity of the injury.

When it comes to back injuries, a ruptured disc is a fairly common one and has multiple treatment modalities. Some people and their doctors may opt to try intensive physical therapy. Others may try to have what's called an epidural injection in which a doctor injects a needle directly into the spine at the injury site and injects an anti-inflammatory steroid into the disc space. This procedure can be done multiple times, and is highly effective for many people. A good doctor will try to explore all options first before resorting to surgical options.

In some cases however, none of these first line treatments work. The patient then has a decision to make-they can try to live with the pain or opt for surgery. The most common procedure for this condition is a procedure known as a spinal fusion. In this type of surgery, a surgeon will open up the back or stomach to gain access to the spine. The surgeon will then remove any damaged disc material from the disc space. Once this is done, the surgeon will fuse the two adjacent vertebrae together by inserting bone material into the disc space and using metal plates and screws to hold the bone graft in place. The bones take approximately 12 months to actually fuse together. The prognosis for this type of surgery is excellent, and for many people it can restore an active and pain-free life.


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