Herniated Disc FAQ

Q: What causes a herniated disc?

A: Many things can cause disc herniations – aging, working or taking a bad fall. For example, when pressure from a sudden impact overcomes the outer disc wall, the wall can herniate (break open). If a disc becomes too weak with age, the outer wall may tear. When a disc tear occurs, the inside part of the disc often pushes through the tear and can press on the nerves beside the disc.

Q: I have back pain and believe that I might have a herniated disc. What is the best way for me to get a diagnosis?

A: If you have not had an MRI or CT scan on your suspected herniated disc, it will be beneficial to do so. Your physician will be able to write a prescription for you so that you can get an MRI or CT scan taken. Once you have the results from these imaging tests, you can send the report to our office for your medical review and assessment.

Q: Where should I turn to next for help relieving my pain and the other symptoms caused by my herniated disc?

A: Most patients try physical therapy, injections, pain management or chiropractic care. Although this may relieve pain temporarily, it does not permanently fix the problem. We suggest you view our page dedicated to herniated disc treatment and discover how our minimally invasive procedures can help you reclaim your freedom from pain while increasing the quality of your lifestyle.

Q: Will existing hardware affect my surgery?

A: Many patients with hardware have successful results with our surgery. Some may even be candidates for hardware removal. We can also remove scar tissue buildup from previous surgery. We will have to take a look at your MRI report or films to get a better idea on whether or not we would be able to help.

Q: How long is the rehabilitation period after surgery at Laser Spine Institute?

A: The recuperation time is minimal because we make small incisions (typically less than 1 inch) and use an endoscope to enter the body. This instrument stretches and pushes the muscles aside instead of cutting through them, causing less trauma, scar tissue and blood loss than traditional surgical procedures. Specific instructions regarding recovery and returning to work are given to each individual by our physicians and staff following a patient’s procedure.

Q: Can I have a herniated disc and not have any symptoms?

A: Yes, some people can have a disc bulge or herniation and not even know it. Symptoms of a herniated disc typically include pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the extremities.

Q: What is the difference between a bulge and disc herniation?

A: Intervertebral discs are always under a lot of pressure, and when discs are healthy, the tough outer wall (annulus fibrosus) of a disc can hold the inner core (nucleus pulposus) in place. A bulge occurs when the interior part of the disc (nucleus pulposus) pushes to the point that it begins to break through the layers of the outer wall of the disc from the inside out, causing the wall to extend outward and possibly put pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves exiting the spinal cord.

A disc herniation is more extreme, in which a tear in the outer, fibrous ring (annulus fibrosus) of an intervertebral disc allows the soft, central portion (nucleus pulposus) to leak out. This tear in the disc ring and the leaking inner core can put pressure on the spinal cord or the nerves exiting the spinal cord.

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