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Back pain may be more serious than you think

Back pain may be more serious than you think

I’ve heard people talk about having a herniated disc, but I guess I never understood what that really meant. And then Nurse Tammy – my mom – was diagnosed with not one, but two herniated discs. Ouch!

So I thought I’d better find out.

A herniated disc can happen anywhere along your spine. Each bone that forms your spine is cushioned by a sponge-like disc that acts like a shock absorber in a car. When that cushion ruptures or splits open, hello pain!

Dr. Dalip Pelinkovic, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital, says ruptured discs can be present at birth but more commonly happen after some type of trauma.

“Heavy lifting, twisting your back, exposure to vibrations can all cause a ruptured disc,” Dr. Pelinkovic says. “When you have one, sitting actually puts more pressure on the discs than standing.”

Dr. Pelinkovic advises you to head straight to your doctor if you are:

  • Unable to work and follow through a normal day
  • Feel weakness in your bladder
  • Lose function or sensation in your back or legs

“If your quality of life is diminished in any way, you should seek help from your primary care physician,” says Pelinkovic.

I’m happy to report my mom is on the mend, but her two herniated discs landed her in the hospital, where she received two spinal injections—eek!—and lots of heavy pain meds.

But even with my mom’s more extreme case, most ruptured discs can be healed without surgery. Dr. Pelinkovic recommends elevating your legs while lying down to alleviate some of the pain. Your physician may prescribe pain medication, physical therapy or even steroid injections. Surgery to repair the disc is typically the last option.

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Comments

2 Comments

  1. I also had a friend who had the same situation and I can see that he was really suffering. That is one situation that is really hard to cope up but given the knowledge to do things properly, it starts to become bearable.

  2. Most doctors will not recommend surgery for a herniated disc unless it severely limits quality of life and daily actives or if you have a history of recurring pain that doesn’t improve within at least a month after performing exercises and physical therapy.

About the Author

Sarah Scroggins
Sarah Scroggins

Sarah Scroggins, health enews contributor, is the director of social media at Advocate Aurora Health. She has a BA and MA in Communications. When not on social media, she loves reading a good book (or audiobook), watching the latest Netflix series and teaching a college night class.