What is Slipped Herniated Disc?

Our spine is composed entirely of bones called vertebrae and providing them with cushioning are small discs called the intervertebral discs. Over time, the intervertebral discs can lose their elasticity and will place the spine at a higher risk of injury. Pain in the spinal disc have many different terms, the common ones being “pinched nerve”, “slipped disc” and “slipped herniated disc”. The truth is, all of the terms refer to the same thing. Many patients who suffer from back pain, leg pain and the weakening of the lower core muscles are usually diagnosed as suffering from slipped herniated disc.

Over time as we age, the disc will lose its water content and become less elastic. If the event that it ruptures, the spinal disc will get pushed out of its normal position and if they pinch onto the spinal nerves, it is called slipped herniated disc. Slipped disc can also occur due to other reasons beside ageing such as traumatic injuries or cyclic loading of the spinal area. When the herniated disc pinches onto the spinal nerves, it will affect the normal signalling process of the nerves and can even stop the signals from being passed.

Some common symptoms of a slipped herniated disc include sharp electric shock pain, muscle weakness, loss of bladder or bowel control and numbness. If the pinching of the nerves by the herniated disc causes high pressure, it can cause weird sensation such as a sharp electric shock kind of pain and the pain can travel down from the neck area to the arms and legs. Since there is a loss of signalling functions, the instructions from the brain can be interrupted and that can cause weakening of the muscles. One common way to diagnose this is to test for reflexes. If there is a lag in reflexes, it is a sign of nerve irritation. Another symptom is the loss of bowel and/or bladder function. Since there is an issue with nerve signalling, the body is unable to properly control the bowel and bladder and can cause them to release substances without you wanting to. It can also be the other way round where you wish to urinate or defecate but you are unable to. Another common symptom is numbness of a particular area for a long time as numbness usually indicates nerve damage.

The loss of body functions due to nerve damages can affect our lives greatly and we should always take all precautions to protect our spine. This can be easily done by the usage of protective equipment during high impact sports as well as lifting heavy objects using the correct method.

How Does Core Stability Affect Back Injury Risks?

Core stability is a concept that started more than 10 years ago with the belief that strengthening of core muscles such as the back and abdominal will help to build up a solid foundation to allow other muscle groups to work together and help to reduce the chances of one suffering from an injury, shorten rehabilitation time and increase sports performance levels. Core stability training as mentioned above targets the muscle groups which are connected to the spine, shoulder and pelvis. Weak abdominal muscles can lead to back pain and strong muscles will reduce back pain. The main message is that a stable and strong muscle will reduce back pain.

There are many benefits to core stability. A good core stability will help to increase performance levels and reduce the chances of suffering injuries. Good posture and strong muscles will ensure proper alignment of the spine and protection of the spine by taking all the impact acting on the spine. There are 4 main muscle groups involved in core stability namely the Transversus Abdominus, Multifidis, Diaphragm and Pelvic Floor. The Transversus Abdominus is the deepest abdominal muscle that is regarded as the corset of muscle that provides exceptional stability to the spine. With a strong muscle that provides support, the risk of back injury is significantly reduced. The Multifidis muscle is located at the side of the spine and the main function of it is to help in extension and flexion of the spine as well as keeping it in an upright position, reducing any back pain resulting from improper posture. The main function of the Diaphragm muscle is for breathing and when the Transversus Abdominus muscle contracts, the Diaphragm muscle will tighten to maintain pressure, providing stability to the spine. The Pelvic Floor muscle runs all the way from the pelvic to the bottom tip of the spine and it works hand in hand with the Transversus Abdominus muscle in providing stability to the spine.

All the 4 muscle groups involved in core stability help to ensure that the spine is in the most stable position and reducing the chances of injury. The muscles will contract before any limb movement and keep the core of the body firm during movement. Studies have shown that people who suffer from back pain do not have strong muscles and thus the core of the body is not firm during any body movement, exposing the spine to a higher risk of injury.

Top 4 Occupations that Negatively Affects the Musculoskeletal System

Our musculoskeletal system consists of the bones, ligaments, tendons and many more that allows us to move around. Disorders to the musculoskeletal will affect our locomotion and will cause problems to our daily lives. Disorders are often due to cyclic stresses and strains caused by our daily activities. Some occupations have an increased risk for Musculoskeletal disorders and our shoulders, hands, neck and back are the ones that are usually affected.

Carpet layers

Carpet layers are workers who lay carpets for customers. They are required to be in a kneeling position for prolonged periods of times daily and they not only have to kneel on a hard surface, they also have to use a knee kicker to stretch the carpet to ensure proper alignment. Whenever we kneel down, our body weight is fully on our both knees and keeling for long periods of time on a hard surface will cause even more damage to the meniscus and kneecap. Over time, the meniscus will wear off and the kneecap will also get damaged.

Movers

Movers are often required to carry heavy loads on their back and this will cause serious musculoskeletal problems such as chronic back pain, sprains, strains and even slipped disks. Back strains are often caused by overloading and poor lifting techniques. If it continues, the muscle can get torn and that will cause inflammation, causing pain and possibly muscle spasms. An injured back muscle will need to work even harder to protect and support the spine, leaving the spine at an additional risk to getting injured.

Office workers

Office workers work in probably the most relaxed and ideal conditions but they are one of the ones with the highest risk to musculoskeletal disorders. Sitting in a poor posture for a day causes more damage to the body than manual work. Poor posture such as hunching can cause lower back pain and shoulder stiffness. Prolonged sitting in a fixed position can also cause an overload in the muscle structures.

Construction workers

Construction workers are often required to carry heavy static loads throughout the day. To distribute the weight better, they often carry the items over their head in a outstretched position. The muscles are thus unable to contract and this will injure the muscles and even hinder the proper blood circulation around the body. Prolonged period of poor blood flow can cause the arms to swell.

It is easy to prevent musculoskeletal disorders by making small changes to your daily lifestyle. The working environment needs to be changed and you also need to be aware of the hazards you are faced with and overcome them.

Effects on Joints and Skeleton Integrity – Golf

After seeing the wonders of Tiger Woods in the golfing world, many people are suddenly interested in the sport and it has seen a huge growth not only in America but also around the world. People from young to old are starting to learn how to play golf and well to do parents are also forcing their kids to learn golf as it is seen as a game that rich businessmen sign contracts over. However with the increasing in golfers, there is also an increase in injuries related to golf. What are they?

Shoulder injuries

Shoulder injuries especially to the muscles and tendons are extremely common due to overuse. Depending on the severity of the injury, it can cause a slight strain to a complete tear. Golf requires the use of the rotator cuff muscles during the swinging of the club and over prolonged usage of them, inflammation can occur, causing pain and tenderness. Amateur golfers are at a higher risk as they use their rotator cuff muscles much more than professional golfers due to incorrect swinging techniques.

Golfer’s elbow

Golfer’s elbow is similar to tennis elbow just that they are caused by 2 different sports and the location of the pain differs. Golfer’s elbow are caused by overuse and cyclic loading of the tendons and it will result in inflammation, causing immense pain to the player. Pain will be felt at the elbow joint inside of the arm and it will cause a sharp pain even during simple task like squeezing something.

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis

De Quervain’s tenosynovitis affects the tendons that are at your thumb and will cause immense pain whenever you try to move your wrist or clench your fingers together. They are caused by repeated hand movement such as swinging the golf club for a prolonged period of time.

Trigger finger

Trigger finger occurs when an attempt to bend the finger towards the palm, the finger is locked in the position due to the tendon getting stuck. Trigger finger are common in people who frequently uses their hands repeatedly and can cause swelling of the tendons in the fingers, causing it to get locked in the opening of the sheath.

Knee injuries

Knee injuries can occur when the golfer swings the club and it results in a rotation of the knee, causing huge stress on the ligaments and the stress can cause the anterior cruciate ligament to tear. Depending on the power of the turn, it can even cause meniscus tear.

Injuries associated with golf are common and are increasing mainly due to the increase in number of golfers nowadays. As mentioned above, most injuries are caused by repeatedly usage and incorrect usage of various muscle groups. Do take care when you are playing and give your body plenty of rest in-between golfing sessions.

Effects on joints and skeleton integrity – Tennis

Every guy aspires to be like Roger Federer and every woman aspires to be like Serena Williams. Who are those people you may ask Well, they are the world number one for tennis respectively for their gender. Tennis is a popular sport that is extremely high impact and high intensity, and there are numerous start stop throughout the game, making it an excellent sport not only to lose body fats but also to strengthen and work out the entire body. Every part of your body is involved in this sport. You need your leg muscles to run about and jump when you serve, receive and smash. You need your arm and shoulder muscles to serve and return the ball.

Ligaments

As mentioned above, tennis is a high impact sport that will cause damages to your ligaments after prolonged play. It is inevitable as you will be repeatedly jumping up and down, landing in different directions and load each time. This will place tremendous stress on your knee ligaments and over time, it will degrade. Improper landing techniques or sudden twisting motions can cause the ligaments to tear.

Tennis elbow

Tennis elbow like its name suggest is a problem to your elbow caused by tennis. Specifically, it involves the tendons that are outside of your elbow whose function is to cock the wrist back to its original position. Since the wrist is repeatable used throughout the game, micro tears can occur in the tendons which do not have the chance to heal.

Tennis toe

As the saying goes, the ball does not grow any eye and can go in all direction. This is very true for tennis and the ball can go in any direction, resulting in you needing to make sudden direction change which will cause your toes to keep pushing against your shoe, causing immense pressure on your toes. Over time, it can cause toe damage or otherwise commonly known as tennis toe.

Bones

However, there are benefits associated with tennis too! Since tennis is an all rounded sport, every single part of your body is involved throughout the entire game. Tennis utilises lots of the muscle’s phasic fibers and it can increase your stamina and endurance levels. As your body will constantly bear load throughout the game, it will help to build up your bone density, greatly reducing the risk of contracting osteoporosis.

Tennis is a high impact sport with a high risk of injuries due to its nature. However, many people still play it regularly to not only keep fit but to challenge their body to its limits. If you take sufficient precautions, you are able to avoid most injuries. Make sure to give your body sufficient rest between games to allow proper recovery of your muscles and tendons.

3 Back Strengthening Exercises

Are you currently suffering from back pain? Regular exercises can help to relieve back pain, strengthen your back muscles and even lower the chances of you suffering from an injury! Many people in the world suffers from back pain and many uses pain relief medication to keep the pain in a tolerable level. What many people do not know is that by engaging in regular back strengthening exercises, they can not only relief the pain in a drug free condition but also prevent them from reoccurring! Below are some simple yet wonderful back strengthening exercises that can be done by people of all ages.

Hip Bridge

Hip bridge is an exercise that stimulates muscles which contributes to having a good posture. You should be able to feel a stretch in your hip and quads and feel an increase in your flexibility level. Hip bridges when done correctly will strengthen the back muscles, glute muscles and stabilises the spine.

How it is done: Start off the exercise by lying flat on a yoga mat which your back, feet and hip shoulder width apart in a relaxed position. Bend your knees slightly and squeeze and contract your hip muscles as you lift it up. Your knees and shoulders should be in a straight line and hold it there for 5 seconds. Slowly return to the starting position and repeat for 15 times.

Superman

The superman exercise as its name suggest is done lying on your chest in a superman position. It can strengthen the back muscles and increase the flexibility of the back. It will help to strengthen the glute muscles as well as the erector spinae muscles.
How it is done: Start off the exercise by lying face down on a yoga mat and stretch both of your hands forward. Slowly raise your torso, arms and legs purely with your abs strength in a “flying” position. Hold this position for 10 seconds and slowly return back to the starting position. Repeat for 10 times.

Bird Dog

Bird dog exercise will help to improve the hands, feet and muscles coordination, something that we need on a daily basis to keep the spine in a straight and stable condition. It will also help to strengthen our glute muscles, back muscles and hamstrings.

How it is done: Start off the exercise by getting in a kneeling position on all fours with the knees slightly apart. Contract your abs and extend your right leg backwards and your left arm forward. Hold in the position for 5 seconds and return back to the starting position and change sides, with your left leg backwards and your right arm forward. Repeat this exercise for 10 times.

Back pain is due to many different reasons but their main contributing factor is due to weak back muscles. Back strengthen exercises will help to firm them up and ensure that they are in a proper alignment.

5 gym exercises that may hurt your spine

Regular exercise is good for our body and it lowers the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Many people thus have the impression that all kinds of exercise are good and safe. Due to time constraints, many of us choose to work out in a gym. However, not all of the exercise machines in a gym are safe. Some gym exercises are a complete waste of time while some may hurt your spine if they are not properly done or if you have existing problems.

Squats with knee bends

Many of us bend our knees when we are doing squats. Bending our knees too deep will cause our spine to get misaligned as it is unable to maintain the proper alignment. When misalignment occurs, our pelvis will start to tilt and our lower back will take over control and this will increase the stress to our back muscles, increasing the chances of injury to our spinal discs.

Behind the head lat pull down

We often see many people doing behind the head lat pull downs in the gym. However, this is not to be performed by everyone. Only those with very flexible shoulder joints should do it and extreme care must be taken not to injure their back with the pull down bar.

Upright rows

Upright rows are done by holding a weight in the centre and placing both hands close together, bringing them up to just under your chin. However, this exercise will compress the nerves, causing issues to both the shoulders and the spine.

Hamstring stretches

While tight hamstring may contribute to back pain, improper usage of the hamstring stretching machine can contribute to spinal disc injuries. When we stretch out to touch our toes, it feels good for the hamstring but will add a huge amount of strain to our back. The entire weight of the body is weighing down onto the disc and it contributes injurious pressure to the discs and causing spine injuries.

Dead lifting

Many of us love to do free weights exercise in the gym and it can help us build wonderful muscles. However, headlining is bad for the back. Dead lifting is done when you bending over at your waist to lift a weight. Although it helps to build up strong back and leg muscles, it is straining the back and causing harm to your spinal discs.

Not all gym exercises are for everyone and not every is good for the body. If you have existing conditions, always consult a specialist before doing certain exercises in the gym. Know your limits and do not attempt to do weights that are beyond yours as you will start using other parts of your body to lift them instead.

 

4 sleeping positions and how it affects your health

We spend a third of our lives sleeping and quality sleeping is beneficial to our well-being. 95% of us sleep in the same position every single night and the sleeping position can impact our health both positively and negatively. It is thus very important to adopt the correct and best sleeping position for better health.

Sleeping on the back

Sleeping on the back is described as lying flat on the back, placing the head on a pillow for support and the body facing the ceiling in an upwards position. Sleeping on the back is a good position as it keeps the spine and head aligned together in a straight line. It is especially ideal for patients suffering from joint pain as it distributes the body’s weight evenly. Try keeping the toes pointing upwards but often, the toes will be pointing sideways. Try placing a pillow beneath the knees for extra support. Always use a neck support pillow to provide additional support for the cervical spine.

Sleeping on the side

Sleeping on the side is described as lying on the sides with both legs straightened and the head on a pillow and the hands in front of the body. Sleeping on the side is another good sleeping position as the spine and head are aligned. Sleeping on the sides also help to reduce snoring. Do make sure that you do not bend your back too much as it will place a lot of strain on the neck and back, causing pain. One negative side to sleeping on the side is that it may cause wrinkles due to the face constantly pressing against the pillow.

Fetal position

Fetal position is described as drawing both legs towards the chest and tucking them in. It helps to repair wear and tear in the back and reduce snoring. However, it is straining for both the neck and back, causing pain when you wake up in the morning. The fetal position also hinders diaphragmatic breathing. Prolonged period of sleeping in this position may cause your breasts to sag.

Side by side

Couples love to sleep side by side with each other, lying in each other’s arm. However, sleeping side by side in a constraint space will cause the body to go into a position which will cause strain to the muscles and joints. Prolonged period of sleeping side by side will cause back and shoulder pain and even possible misalignment of the neck.

Your favourite sleeping position could possibly cause you neck and back pain, wrinkles and even breathing problems. Decide on which are the best positions for you to sleep in and avoid those that are harmful to your health.

Top 5 questions regarding spine injury

Injury to the spinal cord are very serious can could be even be deadly. If someone you know has had a spinal cord injury, medical attention should be sought immediately. Spinal cord injuries cause problems and can be temporary or even permanent. Here are some of the most common questions asked regarding spinal cord injuries.

  1. What are spinal cord injuries and what causes them?

Spinal cord injuries are damages caused to the spinal cord which affects functions in our body such as mobility and feeling. The spinal cord does not have to be broken in order to lose some of the body functions. The spinal cord can be intact yet loss of functions can occur. Around 50% of all spinal cord injuries are caused by vehicle accidents, 28% by sports injuries and 22% caused by falls. As such, the main cause of spinal cord injuries are by sudden impact and the damage will be felt immediately.

  1. What are the effects of spinal cord injuries?

Effects of spinal cord injuries are largely dependent on the type and seriousness of injury. Spinal cord injuries can be complete or incomplete. A complete injury is when there is totally NO function below the injured area. No sensation, feeling and movement can be felt or made and both sides of the body will be affected. An incomplete injury patient will still be able to carry out some function below the injured area such as moving a limb or have some sensation. Patients who have had an injury above the first thoracic vertebra will suffer paralysis of all four limbs. Patients whose injury is below the first thoracic spinal nerve will have full control of their upper limbs but suffer paralysis from the abdomen down.

  1. What is the prognosis?

Prognosis is all dependent on how serious the injury is and what exactly is damaged. Most people who have had spinal cord injuries are able to regain some functions within half a year. After that, the chances of recovery drop to a very low percentage. However, physical therapy may help to reduce long term disability.

  1. What treatments are available?

Although our body has an amazing self repairing mechanism, it doesn’t have the ability to heal the central nervous system. As such, there is no cure for spinal injuries. The only way is to limit cell death and any secondary damage to reduce loss of functions. Scientists are still trying to regenerate functions by growing nerves but are no easy task.

  1. Will I be wheelchair bound for the rest of my life?

The effects of spinal cord injuries are dependent on the severity of the injury. Sadly, most spinal cord injury patients require the use of a wheelchair to get around. Patients who suffered an injury to the top of their spinal cord will need to get around with the use of an electric powered wheelchair as they will lose control of all their limbs. Patients who suffer an injury below the top of the spinal cord are able to use a manual wheelchair as they still have control of their arms. Rehabilitation and physical therapy may help to reduce the dependent of a wheelchair but is largely dependent on individual.

It is of utmost importance for us to protect our spinal cord. When the spinal cord is injured, people can be permanently paralyzed and as of now, there is still no cure for spinal cord injuries. 

Which spine injury symptoms are not normal?

Our ability to still control our limbs after injury to the spinal cord depends largely on 2 factors: the location of the injury and how serious it was. Depending on the location of the injury, it can be a partial or complete spinal cord injury. Patients who have had an injury above the first thoracic vertebra will suffer paralysis of all four limbs. Patients whose injury is below the first thoracic spinal nerve will have full control of their upper limbs but suffer paralysis from the abdomen down. A complete spine injury is when all sensory and control abilities are lost below the injury site. An incomplete spine injury is when some sensory and control abilities are felt below the injury site. Anyone who has had significant impact and trauma to the head or neck needs to seek medical assistance immediately to diagnose for possible spinal injury as a serious spinal injury isn’t obvious immediately and will often onset later. Numbness can also be immediate or delayed depending on the seriousness of the injury and the time between injury and treatment is very critical in the severity of injury and recovery time. There are many symptoms associated with spinal injury but a few are not normal and medical attention is needed IMMEDIATELY.

Severe back pain

Bruising followed by severe back pain is a symptom of a fracture or dislocation of the spine which will lead to permanent paralysis. The injured person must be immobilized immediately to prevent any further movement which can help reduce the risk of permanent paralysis and sent to the hospital immediately.

Weakness

Weakness is indicative of cervical spine nerve damage. Cervical spine nerve damage will cause serious complications such as respiratory and excretory damages causing individuals to lose control of their breathing ability, bladder and bowel abilities.

Twisted neck or back

A twisted neck or back is due to direct injury causing the spinal cord to be pulled, compressed or pressed sideway during injury which can cause permanent disability to the body.

Loss of consciousness

Our body organs self regulate themselves and are controlled by autonomic nerves. Spine injury can injure the nerves and disrupt the self regulating balance, causing life threatening complications. Uncontrolled release of norepinephrine will cause a drastic increase of blood pressure, causing loss of consciousness in patients.

Spine injuries are commonly due to accidents which can be reduced and prevented by driving safely, not drink driving and using seat belts. There is currently no cure for spinal injuries so individuals must do their part to protect their own spinal cord.