Herniated Disc Q&A
What is a herniated disc?
There are rubbery cushions, otherwise known as discs, that are located between your vertebrae to make up your spine. These discs have a tough exterior with a softer center and allow you to move your spine around and bend over. When there is a tear in the tough exterior, the soft center can push through this tear, which is known as a herniated disc, slipped disc, or ruptured disc.
What are the symptoms of a herniated disc?
A herniated disc can be irritating to the surrounding nerves, causing pain, numbness, or weakness. It is most common for a herniated disc to occur in your lower back, although they can occur in your neck as well.
Sciatica is one of the most common symptoms of a herniated disc in the lower back. Pressure on the sciatic nerved can cause pain, tingling, numbness, or burning that radiates from the buttock into the leg and even into the foot. This pain can worsen with standing, sitting, or walking.
Cervical (Neck) pain can arise in the form of dull or sharp pain in the neck or between the shoulder blades. The pain can radiate down the arms to the to the hands or fingers. Numbness or tingling in the shoulder or arm is also very common.
The most common symptoms of a herniated disc are:
- Arm or leg pain: if your herniated disc is in your lower back, you can feel pain in your buttocks, thigh, calf, and even your foot. If your herniated disc is in your neck, you may feel pain in your arm and shoulder.
- Numbness or tingling: a herniated disc can result in numbness or tingling in the body part served by the affected nerves.
- Weakness: Muscles that are serving the area can weaken.
What causes a herniated disc?
There are various causes that contribute to a herniated disc. Natural aging can cause a herniated disc as the ligaments that hold the disc in place begin to weaken with time. A single strain or injury can also cause a herniated disc, with natural aging increasing the risk of a minor strain. There is also research which has shown that a predisposition for herniated discs can exist in families.
Other factors that increase your risk of a herniated disc:
- Weight: excess weight can result in additional stress to the discs in your lower back, possibly leading to a herniated disc.
- Genetics: It is possible to inherit a predisposition to developing a herniated disc.
- Occupation: jobs which include repetitive lifting, pushing, pulling, bending sideways, or twisting may increase your risk of a herniated disc. These physically demanding jobs create an overall higher risk of back problems.
How is a herniated disc diagnosed and treated?
Dr. Lloydine Jacobs will complete a thorough physical exam to review your history, symptoms, and a physical examination to locate the exact source of your pain. Once completed she may suggest you complete an MRI or X-ray of the area to confirm your exact diagnosis.
Based on your confirmed diagnosis, Dr. Lloydine Jacobs will create a personal plan of care to relieve your symptoms and reduce your pain.
Some treatment plans may include:
- Physical therapy, massage therapy, and spinal manipulation
- Prescriptions like muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatories, and pain relievers
- Preventative Care
- Regenerative spine and joint injections
- Ultra-Minimally Invasive Surgery