The bones that form the spine in the back are cushioned by small spongy discs and when these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when the disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc and it may also be called a slipped or ruptured disc.
You can have a herniated disc at any part of your spine, but most herniated discs are located in the lower back (lumbar spine) or neck (cervical spine) and rarely in the upper back (thoracic spine). A herniated disc may be caused by wear and tear of the disc, age or an injury. Any of these causes may cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc. When this happen, the gel inside of the disc can be forced out through the tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. This causes the disc to bulge, break, open or break into pieces.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Symptoms of herniated disc are most likely caused when a disc presses on a nerve root. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is often referred to as sciatica. You can get similar symptoms in either arm if a disc in the neck becomes herniated.
If you have weakness or numbness in both legs along with loss of bladder or bowel control, you need to seek medical care right away. This could be a sign of rare but serious problem called cauda equina syndrome.
Herniated discs are usually diagnosed via a physical examination but additional testing such as an MRI or a CT scan will help confirm the herniated disc or rule out other health issues that may be causing these symptoms.
Non-Surgical Treatment for a Herniated Disc
Treatment for disc herniations can vary depending on the location of the herniated disc and the severity of the herniation.
You can ask one of our Spine Specialists about medicine or other treatments that may be beneficial such as epidural steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections are a fluoroscopically guided injection that can significantly improve the symptoms of herniated disc and may allow your body to heal itself with much less or sometimes no pain.
Epidural steroid injections are just one of the many treatments that are performed at the Orthopaedic Institute of Central Jersey and can be very beneficial at treating herniated discs. At times the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief, but commonly epidural steroid injection is used in combination with comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes Physical Therapy to provide additional benefit.
Importantly, an injection can provide sufficient pain relief to allow a patient to progress with a rehabilitative stretching and exercise program. If the initial injection is effective for a patient, he or she may have up to three in a 6-12 months period of time.
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgical Procedures for a Herniated Disc
In cases where non-surgical treatments have not resolved the symptoms of a herniated disc, our Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeons may discuss the option of a surgical procedure. Unlike in years past, most spinal procedures can now be performed using a minimally invasive approach that requires only a small incision and significantly expedites recovery time.
While there are several Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery options for a herniated disc, the goal for any of these procedures is to remove the herniated portion of the disc(s) and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.
Our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Spine Surgeons are among the most experienced anywhere in New Jersey and are experts in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgical procedures.
Making an Appointment with Our Spine Specialists
For more information about herniated disc treatment options, please contact our office today to schedule a consult in any of our offices in Wall, Toms River, Manahwakin, Freehold or Red Bank. Our friendly and knowledgeable medical team will be happy to answer questions and help you schedule a consultation.
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