Tom Nutten is a warrior in football. He’s played a total of 8 season, 6 with the St. Louis Rams, as an offensive lineman. He’s a big guy coming in at 6 feet 5 inches and 295 pounds. Tom’s also suffering from a herniated disc, which made the St. Louis Rams put him on the injured reserve ending the season. Since the injury has compromised Tom Nutten’s ability to block, he may be at the end of his career.
What is a herniated disc? Think of your spine comprised of circular bones attached to one long bone. There is a set of nerves that run along the straight part. Between the circular bones are sacks of tissue that help your body cushion the spine and allow you to become flexible; these are called discs. When a disc bursts out from under the circular bone it presses against the nerves of the spine causing pain and loss of flexibility. Most herniated discs happen in the lumbar part of the spine, which is located after your ribs down to your hips.
What causes a herniated disc? Usually the herniated disc is caused by aging or wear and tear. The disc is usually a cushion and almost spongy. As you age the disc becomes less flexible and it may push out or burst. You can also herniate a disc through over exertion.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
- Pain in the back and legs
- Coughing or sneezing makes the pain worse
- Numb legs
- Tingle in the back
What is the treatment for a herniated disc? It depends on the severity of the herniated disc. Most people will be told to treat their herniated discs with the following:
- Pain medication
- Anti-inflammatory medication such as steroids
- Chiropractic therapy
- Physical therapy
While this isn’t a quick fix, most people can recover within six to eight weeks.
If the herniated disc is more severe then surgery is called for. A microsurgical surgery is done in most cases and is usually very effective. The only portion of the disc removed is the portion pushing against the spine.