Types of herniated disc vary by location

A disc herniation occurs when the nucleus material of a spinal disc pushes through a tear in its outer layer. This is usually caused by natural aging and an associated loss of water content and elasticity, which can lead to herniated discs and other conditions. The symptoms associated with a herniated disc can vary but often include pain, numbness, muscle weakness and tingling, resulting from compression of a spinal nerve.

Learning more about disc herniation, including the different types of this condition, can make you a better informed patient if a herniated disc is affecting you. This in turn can help you work more closely with your doctor to find the treatment you need to return to normal, healthy activity.

Types of disc herniation

The spine is divided into three main parts — the cervical (upper) spine, thoracic (middle) spine and lumbar (lower) spine. Disc herniations can occur at any of these levels where the problem exists and also determines where the symptoms are experienced. The most common locations for a herniated disc are the cervical and lumbar sections of the spine, due to the amount of weight they have to support combined with their relative flexibility. Disc herniations in the thoracic spine, which is attached to the ribcage, are less common since these discs aren’t under as much pressure.

Treatment options

Many people with a herniated disc are able to find relief from their symptoms through a variety of conservative treatments. Your doctor can best help you choose among these options, but common recommendations include physical therapy, medication, hot/cold therapy, exercise and epidural steroid injections. However, not everyone responds to this type of treatment, which is why some begin to consider elective surgery if weeks or months of conservative therapy have not brought relief.

If you have been recommended for a highly invasive traditional open spine surgery but have concerns about the risks involved, contact Laser Spine Institute. Our minimally invasive spine surgery is a safer and effective alternative to traditional procedures, offering our patients less risk of complication and a shorter recovery time.^

To learn more, reach out to our caring and dedicated Care Team to receive your no-cost MRI review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.