How to Know If You Have a Herniated Disc

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To find out whether you have a herniated disc, the easiest way to know is if it hurts when you cough or sneeze. Learn more about herniated discs with help from a chiropractor in this free video on spinal disc herniation and sciatica.

Part of the Video Series: Spinal Disc Herniation & Sciatica
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Doctor Ray Wisniewski, America's answer man. We're here to talk about how to know if you have a herniated disc. And number one, you have to understand what has actually happened with that disc. And it's really easy to know if your have one. First, if we take a look at what a herniated disc actually is, the disc is made up of the nucleus which is the jelly that's the middle of to the disc, which is the space between the vertebra surrounded by what's referred to as the annular ligament or the annulus. And it's when the pressure inside that nucleus exerts out and actually bulges through the annulus, normally because there was a tear within the annulus. Now, what happens is that when you increase this turgor pressure inside, you'll have more symptoms. And those symptoms could be pain, spasm, numbness, tingling sensation. So, one of the easiest ways to tell if you have a herniated disc, is if it hurts when you cough. See, when you cough you increase the turgor pressure by six times. So, you have six times the pressure bulging outward. When you sneeze, you increase this same turgor pressure by twenty two times. So, what will happen is, in fact if it hurts you to sneeze, but not to cough, you know that it's not quite as bad. So, if you have a herniated disc, it may hurt you to cough, to sneeze, to laugh, to have straining on bowel movements. Any of this, well, you'll hear people say, oh, don't make me laugh, it hurts to laugh. Because that laughing increases the the turgor pressure inside that creates that bulging outward. And it's that bulging that caused all the pain. Now, of course the absolute way that you can see this is you know, they say MRI. but the problem with an MRI is that about fifty percent of the people who don't have herniated discs, show up as having disc bulges and herniated discs. And it's almost the same the other way. About thirty percent of those who do have it, don't show up, because of the way that it works. So, I actually feel that you can tell more just by your own symptoms. Do you have pain, do you have any of these symptoms and does it increase when I increase the turgor pressure inside; in other words, when you cough, when you sneeze, when you're having a bowel movement, when you laugh. Those are your best indicators, particularly if when you do that, if that pain radiates. In other words, if when you sneeze, you don't just have low back pain but it goes down your leg. That could be a sign of a herniate disc.

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