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Ask the Expert: How to help a herniated disc

CINCINNATI (Liz Bonis) -- A local woman had a great question about how to fix a herniated disc.

It's estimated 8 out of 10 people will have back pain at some point in their lives.  One common cause of the pain, according to Doctor Michael Sharts, is called a herniated disc.

Dr. Sharts, a spine specialist, said, "The disc is padding in between the bones or the vertebral bodies in the spine."

The disc has rings of cartilage with a soft nucleus in the middle.

"And as we age that ring of cartilage can dry out and crack.  And some of that soft nucleus as it comes out and people can get back and leg pain from that herniated disc," said Dr. Sharts.

He said imaging studies can help people determine if that was the cause of their pain.  The good news is about 80 percent of people that have a herniated disc heal themselves.  In the others small, minimally invasive surgery to remove the compression of the nerve can be performed.

There are things people can do while their spine is in good shape to keep it that way. Dr. Sharts called it sort of a 'spine fitness program.'  He said it involved maintaining a healthy weight so people don't over stress the spine.  People can ask a trainer to design a program that can help them build up the core muscles that support the spine.  And doing yoga or another activity that stretches the area around the spine can be helpful.

CLICK HERE for more information about getting help for back-pain.

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