What is a herniated disc?
The discs between each vertebra of your spine are made from a tough shell that encloses a gel-like center. This unique design gives discs the ability to absorb shock and help your vertebrae move smoothly.
When the outer covering becomes weak or damaged, it can’t contain the inner gel, and pressure from your spine pushes the gel outward. This creates a bulge at the weakened area, or in some cases, the disc ruptures, and the gel leaks out of the disc.
What causes a herniated disc?
Herniated discs develop due to several factors, but the top cause is natural aging. Over time, the discs dry out and harden, and the outer wall weakens. As a result, the disc begins to degenerate, and it only takes a little pressure to cause a herniated disc. You can also sustain a herniated disc due to an injury, from repetitive activities that stress your spine, or from lifting a heavy object.
What symptoms develop due to a herniated disc?
Herniated discs are known for causing pain. Your pain may arise from the disc itself, but it’s more likely to develop as the herniated portion pushes against nearby nerves. When the disc ruptures, the inner gel flows over nerves, causing irritation and inflammation.
When you have a herniated disc, you’ll experience symptoms such as:
- Chronic pain in your lower back or neck
- Numbness or tingling in your legs or arms
- Pain radiating down your legs or arms
- Muscle weakness in your legs, feet, arms, or hands
Eventually, the herniated disc may flatten, which causes spinal instability.
How is my herniated disc treated?
Your doctor at Florida Back Institute develops a treatment plan based on the severity of your herniated disc and the severity of your pain.
The first line of treatment begins with nonsurgical care such as medications to relieve your pain, reduce swelling, and relax muscles. Physical therapy can also relieve pain, strengthen your muscles, and help you maintain an optimal range of motion.
Your doctor may recommend an injection containing an anesthetic and steroids so that you can get quick pain relief from the anesthetic and longer-lasting relief as steroids reduce inflammation.
When your pain persists despite conventional treatments, you may be a good candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery such as an extreme lateral interbody fusion, discectomy, and fusion, disc replacement, or a laminectomy to decompress spinal nerves.
To receive customized treatment for your back or neck pain, call Florida Back Institute or book an appointment online.