Bones, joints, and muscles
Could your back pain be caused by a slipped disc?
(ARA) - Back pain is a common complaint of Americans. Sixty to
eighty percent of the US population reports they suffer from some
kind of back pain and five percent suffer from chronic back pain.
It is the most frequent cause of activity limitation for people
under the age of 45. A common cause of back pain is often a slipped
disc (also called a herniated disc).
That's what recently afflicted Leandro Carvalho, a fitness trainer
to the stars in Manhattan. He had long suffered from leg and lower
back pain, but figured it was an occupational hazard. Until one
day, while teaching a group class, he felt a sharp pain and fell
to the ground, temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
The first surgeon he visited warned him the operation he needed
may leave him permanently paralyzed and that he would never return
to his full physical performance. Carvalho's devoted clientele
suggested he get a second opinion from Sean McCance, MD, co-director
of Orthopedic Spine Surgery at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New
York City. It was a second opinion that changed Carvalho's life.
Dr. McCance performed spine surgery to repair severe disc degeneration,
a herniated disc, and a collapse of the disc space. Today, Carvalho
is back in the game—dancing and reshaping the bodies and
minds of hundreds of clients. In fact, he says, he is stronger
than ever thanks to Dr. McCance.
Dr. McCance explains that a slipped disc happens when the cushiony
disc between the vertebrae ruptures or bulges into the spinal
canal putting pressure on the nerves, which can cause a great
deal of pain. Back and spinal pain doesn't just afflict those
with high impact jobs. In fact, any occupation that requires long
periods of time in stationary positions, like sitting or standing,
have a very high incidence of people with chronic back pain.
How do you know if you're experiencing this problem and not just
everyday aches and pains? Symptoms of a slipped disc include:
- sudden pain in the back or neck
- pain down the back of one leg, sometimes into the foot
- weakness and a feeling of "pins and needles"
- in severe cases, foot drop or bowel and bladder problems may
Physicians recommend that you seek medical attention for any
back problem. For minor back pain, rest, heat, and an over-the-counter
pain reliever are often prescribed. For more serious back conditions,
prescription pain medications and muscle relaxants, injections,
and even surgery
may be in order.
Before a sore back requires surgery, however, Dr. McCance recommends
the following ways to help prevent serious back problems, like
a slipped disc.
Exercise regularly and use proper body mechanics. A healthy
back and neck exercise regimen includes cardiovascular—treadmill,
water aerobics and recumbent bike are all gentle on the back—and
light weights. Physical therapy is often prescribed
Work to maintain a healthy weight. Excess weight strongly contributes
to lower back pain and nearly every spinal condition.
Rest after any injury. Waiting for the pain to completely subside
can actually make it worse, but walking a mile or two each day
while recovering is a low-impact way to keep the spine strong.
If you smoke, quit. If you don't smoke, don't start. Spine patients
who smoke have been identified to have a higher risk of back pain.
Also, smokers often have a more unpredictable surgery outcome
and a longer recovery time after surgery.
For more information on slipped discs and other spinal conditions
or to make an appointment with Dr. McCance, visit www.McCanceMD.com.
Courtesy of ARA Content