Common herniated disc causes
A herniated disc occurs when a disc in the spine is damaged due to pressure from the surrounding vertebrae or from injury.
The most common cause of a herniated disc is the natural aging process of the spine. As with all aging, the spine can suffer some wear and tear over the years from weight gain and repetitive motion. The lumbar spine (lower back) is responsible for supporting most of the body’s weight, so years of weight gain increase the pressure on the discs and vertebrae in the lumbar region. Additionally, the cervical spine (neck) allows the head to move and pivot. This continual motion can wear down the disc in between the pivoting vertebrae, causing the disc to be susceptible to damage.
How does a herniated disc develop?
We know the main contributing factor to a herniated disc is the aging of the spine, but how does just aging damage a disc and cause chronic pain?
The discs in the spine act as cushions for the vertebrae, allowing them to move and pivot without impacting each other. Because the discs are required to be fluid and strong in order to support the vertebrae, they are made up of a tough, elastic outer layer and a gel-like inside.
As the surrounding vertebrae place pressure on the discs, whether through weight gain or repetitive motion, the inner fluid in the disc presses against the elastic outer layer. This outer layer holds the disc in place and retains the proper shape to support the vertebrae. However, over time the elasticity in the outer layer wears down. When this happens, the disc is not able to bounce back into shape when it is pressed and pushed under the pressure of the spine. Eventually, the elasticity gives way altogether and the disc breaks open, allowing the inner fluid to spill into the canal.
Treatment for a herniated disc
In many cases, a combination of conservative treatment methods can treat the pain caused by a herniated disc. These conservative treatments range from pain medication and cortisone injections to physical therapy and lifestyle changes. Your physician can help you find the appropriate treatment method for your condition.
However, if several months of conservative techniques fail to relieve your symptoms, spine surgery may be required.
At Laser Spine Institute, we offer a minimally invasive discectomy and stabilization procedure to relieve pressure on the pinched nerve in your spine from a herniated disc. Our minimally invasive discectomy removes a small portion of the herniated disc in order to free the trapped nerve root that is causing your pain. Sometimes, the entire herniated disc needs to be taken out of the spine because it is too damaged to support the vertebrae. When this happens, our surgeons replace the damaged disc with an artificial disc through a minimally invasive stabilization procedure.
Because of our minimally invasive approach to spine surgery, our patients have the advantage of experiencing a shorter recovery time,^ lower risk of infection and higher patient satisfaction score than patients who choose traditional open spine surgery.
To learn more about the most common herniated disc causes, contact your physician today, and if you’re interested in learning about how an outpatient, minimally invasive procedure may be able to help you find relief from your symptoms, contact Laser Spine Institute.