In a recent post, we shared some information about the effects of dehydration on the back and spine. Here, we’re going to talk about the types of spinal disc problems you may develop when your water intake isn’t cutting it, or other abnormalities present themselves.
The importance of the discs in the spine can’t be overstated. They’re what’s standing between you and a back constantly in pain. They help your vertebrae stay apart, cushioning them from shock and allowing them a full range of motion. But when things go wrong, you’re going to have problems.
Two Major Categories
While there are many problems associated with the spinal discs, they all fall under two major categories – nerve root pain and disc pain.
Degenerative disc disease (which is not a disease in its own right, but which describes a process of degeneration) is part of the natural aging process, generally speaking. And how does this happen? The discs dry out and become less able to keep your vertebrae apart. That’s why hydration is so crucial to your spine health. This type of pain is also “referred” pain, where the disc is not the site of pain. The pain, however, points to degenerative disc disease.
With a herniated disc, you’ll experience “radicular” pain. This means that pain is traveling down a nerve exiting the spine. Because the disc has herniated (bulging outward from the protective coating it’s held in place by), it has impinged on the nerve, causing nerve pain.
It’s important to determine whether the pain being experienced has originated in the disc (degenerative disc disease) or a disc problem like herniation has prompted nerve pain. The only way to accomplish that is through diagnosis by a medical professional.
All Disc Problems Don’t Cause Pain
Some problems in the discs can only be detected by imaging diagnostics like the MRI. The MRI may show dysfunction which is not accompanied by pain. Similarly, patients with small disc herniations may experience tremendous pain, while patients with larger ones won’t feel a thing.
So, it’s important to understand that the pain may be coming from another source than a disc and to patiently walk with your medical professional through the diagnostic process to definitively ascertain what the root cause of your pain is.
It’s also germane to note that diagnostic imaging is in place not to diagnose the problem but to confirm that conclusions drawn in the interview and review of medical history are correct. This is why it’s important that you educate yourself as much as possible during the process of seeking a diagnosis. Make friends with your doctor and ask plenty of questions. Your doctor diagnoses – not the test.
The same goes for surgical solutions, should a disc problem indicate that surgical intervention is required. Knowing as much as you can about the condition being addressed and the surgical options available will make the whole process less intimidating.
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