A herniated back disc is a common condition in the spine that can cause pain in the back and neck as well as throughout the arms and legs. Intervertebral discs – which are cushions of joint cartilage located between the vertebrae in the spine – are prone to injury and everyday wear-and-tear. It’s common for one or more discs to become weak and torn, allowing inner disc material to leak out and extrude into the spinal canal. When this happens, the herniated back disc can apply pressure on the adjoining sensory nerve root or the spinal cord, which may cause pain or discomfort both at the affected site and throughout other parts of the body.
Herniated back discs most often occur in the lumbar (lower) region of the spine (a region known as L1-L5) where the back has the most mobility and also endures the most stress. Here, a slipped disc can cause pain radiating from the lower back all the way down to the feet. This intense pain in the lower body is often referred to as sciatica.
Although not as frequent as a lumbar herniated disc, a cervical herniated disc (in the neck) is also a common source of pain. A herniated neck disc can cause intense neck pain as well as tingling, numbness, and weakness that reverberates all the way down to the fingertips.
If you suspect you have a herniated disc, it is recommended you visit your doctor for a thorough diagnosis. Once the correct diagnosis is made, often conservative treatment can provide relief for herniated back discs. These treatments may include:
- Hot and cold packs
- Over-the-counter or prescription medication
- Stretching, conditioning, and strengthening
- Improved posture and diet
- Physical therapy
If conservative treatments do not provide the relief you require, your doctor may recommend herniated disc surgery. If this is the case, the award-winning surgeons at Laser Spine Institute (LSI) are leaders in minimally invasive, outpatient procedures designed to alleviate back and neck pain. If you are suffering from a herniated disc, contact the experts at LSI to receive a free review of your MRI or CT scan, and learn more about your many alternatives to relieving back and neck pain.