Herniated disc overview
A herniated disc is a degenerative spine condition that can lead to chronic pain, taking you away from your life and the activities you love. Herniated discs mainly happen from regular wear due to age but can also be caused by a traumatic injury in some cases. Your lifestyle choices, such as smoking, nutrition and exercise also play a role in their development.
Herniated discs are usually treated with a combination of nonsurgical, conservative treatments. Although, surgery can become a serious option when other methods have not brought relief. Read on to learn more about what causes a herniated disc to develop, along with the treatment options available to ease your symptoms and get you back to the activities you have been missing out on.
Herniated disc causes and symptoms
The vertebrae are cushioned by rubbery discs at nearly every level. These discs separate the vertebrae, allowing for flexibility and movement. There are two main parts of a disc — a soft, gel-like interior, known as the nucleus pulposus and a tough outer shell, known as the annulus fibrosus. A herniated disc occurs when pressure from the center of the disc causes a tear in the weakened exterior, allowing for disc material to extrude.
While a herniated disc is not necessarily painful by itself, debilitating and painful symptoms can occur in two main ways:
- Local pain develops in the disc if nerve tissue on the surface is irritated
- If any disc material comes into contact with the spinal cord or nerve roots in the spine, pain signals can be sent through the body
This second cause of symptoms is the one most patients experiencing pain due to a herniated disc seek treatment for. This nerve compression can cause burning pain and muscle weakness throughout the body and can be the reason why a herniated disc can disrupt your life.
Herniated disc treatments
If you are experiencing pain as a result of a herniated disc, your doctor will usually first prescribe a course of conservative treatments. These may include the application of heat or ice, the use of anti-inflammatory medication, physical therapy, stretching techniques or rest. In the event that several weeks or months of conservative treatment fail to provide you with the pain relief you’re looking for, surgery may then be considered.
If you have been recommended for traditional open back surgery but are concerned about some of the associated risks and long recovery time, you may be glad to know that there are less invasive surgical options. For instance, Laser Spine Institute offers no lengthy recovery and has patients up and walking within a few hours of surgery.^ Contact us today to learn more and to talk to our caring team to determine if our outpatient procedures would be effective in relieving your herniated disc symptoms.
At Laser Spine Institute, our state-of-the-art facilities perform minimally invasive options for both decompression and stabilization surgeries. If you have serious disc damage in your spine, our procedures offer a safer and effective alternative to traditional fusion surgery.^ Since 2005, we have helped more than 75,000 patients find relief from chronic neck and back pain, setting us apart as the leader in minimally invasive spine surgery
Reach out to our dedicated team today for a no-cost review of your MRI or CT scan.* If our team determines you are a candidate for minimally invasive spine surgery, we can help you move to the next step on your journey to wellness.