Diagnosis and treatment for a herniated disc
A herniated disc diagnosis may cause some anxiety, but the reality is that many people experience a herniated disc at some point in their lives and successfully manage their symptoms. The natural aging process gradually causes the discs of the spine to deteriorate, often leading to issues including a herniated disc. While it’s impossible to stop the natural effects of age, you can use the following article to learn about the variety of methods to treat and manage the symptoms of a herniated disc and minimize its impact on your life.
Herniated disc diagnosis
To better understand what a herniated disc is, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the anatomy of the spine. The spine is made up of vertebrae, which are bone segments that collectively form the spinal column. In between the vertebrae are sponge-like discs that absorb shock for the spine. When a spinal disc breaks or ruptures, the gel-like center (nucleus pulposus) can escape from the disc’s tough outer wall (annulus fibrosus) and put pressure on the many nerves in and near the spinal column.
A disc rupture can occur naturally over time or be caused by disc trauma. Because herniated disc diagnoses vary in terms of how much of the nucleus pulposus has leaked, as well as which part of the spine it’s affecting, treatments also vary. It is important to be properly diagnosed by a doctor in order to determine the right method of treatment for your particular case.
To diagnose a herniated disc, your doctor will likely start with asking about your symptoms, for example, what pain you feel, where the pain is located and what activities make your pain better or worse. A physical exam usually comes next, where your doctor will test your reflexes, nerve function and muscle strength. After the medical history and physical exam, your doctor will request imaging such as an MRI or CT scan to get visual confirmation of the herniated disc and compressed nerves in the spine.
Conservative and alternative herniated disc treatment
A herniated disc can often be successfully treated with conservative methods that primarily consist of healthy habits. Following a regular exercise regimen often helps individuals find relief from pain associated with a herniated disc, as it strengthens the core muscles that support the spine and helps to shed any extra pounds that might be causing additional strain on the spine. Other conservative treatments for a herniated disc include:
- Wearing a brace to restrict painful positions and improve posture
- Quitting smoking which weakens the discs
- Getting enough rest to allow your body to heal naturally, without engaging in prolonged periods of inactivity
- Using hot or cold compresses which can help reduce inflammation and numb pain
- Participating in physical therapy to learn exercises and stretching techniques that will improve spinal strength and flexibility
- Taking medication that is over-the-counter or prescription can help manage the pain of herniated discs
- Getting epidural steroid injections to reduce inflammation around nerves being affected by a herniated disc
In addition to these remedies, some individuals find alternative medicine to offer effective treatments for a herniated disc. Chiropractic medicine and acupuncture have been known to alleviate pain and improve spinal alignment. If you suffer from a herniated disc and have not found relief after several weeks or months of conservative and alternative methods of treatment, contact Laser Spine Institute.
Minimally invasive herniated disc surgery
While traditional open back surgery usually requires two to five days of hospitalization, the surgical procedures performed at Laser Spine Institute are all outpatient procedures. Our procedures can be completed through a small muscle-sparing incision, reducing trauma to the body and in turn reducing recovery time compared to traditional neck and back surgery.^
Since 2005, our dedicated team has 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. We’ll provide a no-cost MRI or CT scan review* to help determine if you’re a candidate for our minimally invasive spine surgery, which can help you get back to the activities you have been missing out on.