CNY Orthopedic Sports Medicine, PC: ItHurts: Back

Body Zone: Back: How Badly Are You Hurt?

The phrase "slipped disc" is used commonly to refer back pain or injury. What does it mean, and is it the cause of the pain in my back after playing football with the kids or mowing the lawn?
The phrase "slipped disc" refers to a condition in the back of an intervertebral disc herniation or rupture. This condition occurs when the soft, gelatinous center of the shock-absorbing disc is pushed through the tougher fibers connecting the bones of the spinal column and into the spinal canal. The material from the disc can then compress the nerves and the spinal cord and result in pain, numbness, and tingling.

This condition is not the likely cause of the back pain experienced after a weekend of overactivity with the kids or working in the yard. Just as with any activity that overuses muscles that are not conditioned for the task, the muscles of the back can be strained. The result can be considerable discomfort for several days.

How can I determine if my back injury involves a "slipped disc"?
Although a physical examination by a physician and the review of special x-rays to look for this type of injury are required for confirmation, the onset, severity, and type of symptoms provide evidence for or against this injury. A slipped disc usually results in the abrupt onset of severe pain that is localized over a small area of the back. This pain is accompanied by the sensation of numbness and tingling in the arms or legs. The ability of the muscles of the extremities to work my also be effected by a disc rupture. A muscle strain of the back usually results in pain spread over a larger area of the muscles next of the spine and is not associated with the numbness, tingling, or the inability of the arms and legs to work properly.

After sitting at my computer terminal all day, my low back is very sore. What is wrong, or what am I doing wrong?
In today's busy workplace, it is common to have a job where it is required that you sit before a computer monitor for endless hours You are doing nothing wrong, other than overusing the muscles of your low back by just sitting all day. Two important things can be done to help this situation. First, make sure that you have a comfortable chair, one that supports the lower or lumbar portion of the back. Secondly, take frequent breaks, even if that means standing for a few minutes every hour.

My neck and back pop and snap when I move or twist. Is there something Wrong or do I have arthritis in my back?
Just as is common with the fingers, toes and knees, the joints of the human body naturally pop and snap with movement. One of the most common causes for this phenomenon is the movement of ligaments and tendons over ridges and bumps of the bones of the joint. Although the spine is one of the earliest sites in the body for the development of arthritis, the popping and snapping of the neck or back should not be cause for alarm and do not cause arthritis changes in the spine.

I am a construction worker who recently had surgery for a ruptured disc. Can I safely return to this type of work?
The surgical treatment of a ruptured or "slipped disc" will not prohibit the return to heavy labor. Depending of the method of surgery utilized, the time required for rehabilitation before return to work will vary. No permanent limitations on activity result from this type of injury or surgery.

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