Dear Dr: I rode a lot last year and my lower back wasn’t quite right. I get a sharp pain and sometimes my left leg tingles and feels numb. A friend I’m riding with wonders if it’s a herniated disc. Can you talk about what that is? Will it heal?
Dear Reader: Cycling has long been a great alternative for people who want a heartbreaking workout but prefer to avoid the jerky effects of running. However, poor driving posture can put strain on your lower back. You may be using the wrong size bike for your frame or one that is not properly adjusted.
Your friend is right that the pain and numbness you experience are some of the symptoms associated with a herniated disc. Also known as a herniated disc or herniated disc, this occurs when one of the special pads of tissue that act as shock absorbers in the spine is damaged.
We owe our upright posture and impressive freedom of movement to the gentle S-shaped curvature of the spine, which enables even weight distribution. The spine is made up of a stack of 24 bones called the vertebrae. They protect and support the spinal cord and also add to the weight of the upper body. Nestled between the vertebrae are donut-shaped pads known as intervertebral discs. They are about half an inch thick, with a hard and flexible outer ring of cartilage and a pliable, jelly-like center. The positioning of these discs reduces the stress and impact we endure as we move and bend and interact with the world.
A herniated disc occurs when wear and tear or injury causes a tear in the hard outer layer of the disc. This allows the soft inner center to emerge, which can put pressure on nearby nerve roots. Improper lifting, poor posture or spine alignment, and repetitive movements that involve the spine can all increase the risk of a herniated disc. Symptoms include pain, tingling, and numbness that you experience. Additional symptoms may include muscle weakness in the leg or foot, or a sharp, sharp pain on the side of the leg called sciatica.
To know if you have a herniated disc, you need to see a doctor. You are likely to have a neurological exam to assess muscle strength, loss of sensitivity, and reflexes. A simple test is to lie on your back and the doctor will gently raise your leg while your leg is straight. If there is pain in the leg and below the knee, a herniated disc is likely. An imaging test can be used to confirm the diagnosis.
In most cases, non-surgical treatments will provide relief. This includes a range of drugs used to treat pain and inflammation, and possibly physical therapy. Some patients find acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic treatment can help. In a few cases, surgery to remove the herniated disc may be recommended. Herniated discs can heal, but it takes time. It is important to slowly regain activity, keep your movements slow and controlled, and be patient.