What is a Herniated Disk and What Are the Symptoms?

Our spine consists of a series of bones called vertebrae. Separating these vertebrae are cushions filled with a jellylike substance. These cushions allow the spine to bend. When one of these disks starts to slip out of place, it causes a condition called a slipped, ruptured, or herniated disk.

Most herniated discs occur in your lower back (lumbar spine), although they can also occur in your neck (cervical spine). You can suffer a herniated disk and not experience any symptoms, but most people do. The most common symptoms associated with a herniated disk are:

  • Arm or leg pain – If your herniated disk is in your lower back, you’ll typically feel the most intense pain in your buttocks, thigh and calf. If your herniated disk is in your neck, the pain will typically be most intense in the shoulder and arm. This pain may be more intense when you cough, sneeze or move your spine into certain positions.
  • Numbness or tingling – People who have a herniated disk often experience numbness or tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves.
  • Weakness – Muscles served by the affected nerves tend to weaken. This may cause you to stumble, or impair your ability to lift or hold items.

While suffering a herniated disk is most often the result of a natural aging process called disk degeneration, it can sometimes be the result of a traumatic event or improperly lifting heavy objects.

Risk factors for developing a herniated disk include:

  • Excess body weight causes extra stress on the disks in your lower back.
  • People with physically demanding jobs have a greater risk of back problems.
  • Some people inherit a predisposition to developing a herniated disk.

Tips to avoid a herniated disk include exercising, maintaining a healthy weight, lifting heavy objects with your legs and not your back, and practicing good posture.

In many cases, the best treatment for a herniated disk is rest, but if your symptoms are persistent or worsening, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor who may prescribe medications or refer you for physical rehabilitation.

If you are experiencing symptoms associated with a herniated disk and would like to see a doctor at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-  5486 to make an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Bone and Joint Action Week Begins Today Learn More About the Many Different Types of Bone and Joint Disorders

Beginning on October 12th and ending on October 20th, the world recognizes  Bone and Joint Action Week, a global, multidisciplinary initiative promoting the care of persons with bone and joint disorders.  This initiative focuses on improving quality of life and advancing the understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions through research, prevention, and education.

Bone and joint conditions are the most common causes of severe long-term pain and physical disability worldwide, affecting hundreds of millions of people. Over half of Americans suffer from some form of a musculoskeletal condition, such as back pain, arthritis, traumatic injuries, osteoporosis, spinal deformity, and childhood conditions. One in three people require medical care for these conditions.

Musculoskeletal conditions can lead to significant disability plus diminished productivity and quality of life and the prevalence of these conditions is predicted to increase greatly due to increasing life expectancy and changes in risk factors.

To help raise awareness on the many different types of bone and joint disorders, this week-long event highlights five of the most common types of bone and joint disorders and provides a specific recognition day for each. The week includes the following recognition days:

  • October 12 – World Arthritis Day
  • October 16 – World Spine Day
  • October 17 – World Trauma Day
  • October 19 – World Pediatric Bone and Joint (PB&J) Day
  • October 20 – World Osteoporosis Day

Flushing Hospital supports this effort to raise awareness about bone and joint diseases. For more information about Bone and Joint Action Week, visit the US Bone and Joint Initiative at https://www.usbji.org/

 

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Are You Experiencing Tech Neck?

Our phones and tablets are so advanced and convenient; so much so that we now use them for practically everything. While this technology provides many benefits, our increased reliance on them is leading to a new health concern for some known as “Tech Neck.”

Browsing on tablet

Tech neck is a trending medical term that describes the condition associated with people who spend a lot of time on their phones or tablets. When we use these devices, we often hang our heads in a downward position. Whether we are holding them in our hands or resting them in our laps, the position of our heads while using these devices can place a great deal of strain on our head, neck, shoulders and back. In addition, this hunched position can lead to poor posture, muscle spasms, headaches and restricted range of motion to our head and neck area.

Doctors are reporting an increase in the number of patients who are experiencing head and neck pain as a result of overuse of their devices. This practice can affect anyone, but not surprisingly, the age group that has been impacted the most is teenagers and young adults as they spend the most time playing games on them.

To avoid developing head and neck issues from using these products, doctors recommend the following tips:

• Keep them at eye level to reduce hanging your head in a downward position.
• Shift positions while using your tablet to prevent neck and shoulder muscles from tensing up.
• Purchase a standing case and place your device on a flat surface instead of holding it.
• Never use a tablet or phone while lying in bed. Ergonomically, there is no way to do this without causing damage to your neck.
• Take breaks from using your tablet every 15 minutes.
• Most importantly, limit the use of time you spend on devices.

If you are experiencing prolonged head, neck, shoulder or back pain, please consult your physician about treatment options. If you do not have a doctor, please call Flushing Hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center at 718-670-5486 to make an appointment.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.

Is Cold Weather To Blame for Back Pain?

Maybe you’ve heard before that people with achy joints or arthritis can predict cold weather coming long before the local weather man. Or maybe you suffer from back pain that seems to get worse every time winter strikes and the temperature drops below freezing. The technical name for this condition is “cold allodynia”, but what is actually happening with your body when these instances occur?

Some experts believe that barometric pressure on your joints is the cause of cold allodynia. There are many receptors in the bodies’ nerve endings which detect things like texture, temperature, and of course pressure. However, these nerve endings may also pick up on changes in barometric pressure in the air and respond, in some people, with a pain reaction.

So what can you do about back pain during cold weather? Well, the first thing you can do is to keep warm and bundle up. Extra layers are extremely helpful to retain heat and keep the cold out. Understanding how and why winter weather affects your body is the first step to mitigating your pain. With this in mind, here are some important facts about back pain this season:

  • While there is no known connection between barometric pressure and back pain, cold temperatures are associated with an increased risk of back injuries. One thing we do know is that when you’re cold, the muscles, tendons and ligaments in your back tighten and become less flexible, thereby making them much more prone to injuries that in turn can cause you plenty of back pain.
  • Dark and gloomy days in winter may contribute to depression, which in turn can cause or aggravate chronic back pain.
  • Shorter, colder days may discourage you from exercising, which can be a formula for back pain. After all, that early morning run or evening bike ride might be dangerous as well as uncomfortable when it’s dark, wet and/or cold outside.

Many people say they experience back, neck and joint pain either just before a storm or when the temperature falls quickly, implying that their bodies are in some way able to register the barometric pressure changes that occur during such times. However, to date, there is no scientific evidence proving a correlation between declining atmospheric pressure and back pain. The takeaway from this is that winter back problems may be avoidable when you wear the right clothing to keep you warm, stretch your muscles regularly, stay active and employ basic fall prevention techniques when needed.

The Pain Management Center at Flushing Hospital is designed to diagnose and treat a vast array of chronic pain syndromes. For any questions about the services provided, please call 718- 670-8797.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.