How does a herniated disc occur?
Herniated discs can occur as a result of a sudden accident or injury, although they are typically caused by age-related changes to the discs and the regular wear and tear they endure. The main segments of the spine are made up of 24 individual vertebrae, which are cushioned by a disc on either side. The discs have a thick outer wall and a soft inner core. As a part of the natural aging process, the discs gradually lose their water and protein content, becoming brittle and prone to small tears. If a tear becomes large enough, some of a disc’s inner core can push out, resulting in a herniated disc.
Herniated disc treatment
Herniated disc treatment depends on the type and severity of symptoms the issue is causing. While herniated discs can be painful on their own, they can cause additional discomfort if the displaced disc material compresses a nerve root. In some cases, it’s also possible for herniated disc material to press against the spinal cord. Symptoms can vary based on which parts of the spine are directly affected by a herniated disc. Some people feel nothing at all, others will experience minor numbness or tingling and still others will have persistent pain and muscle weakness.
In many cases, these symptoms can be controlled with conservative treatments. With a wide range of conservative therapies available, options include:
- Pain medications
- Epidural steroid injections
- Physical therapy
- Hot/cold compresses
- Therapeutic massage
- Lifestyle changes like quitting smoking, losing weight or improving posture
By working with their doctor, patients can often find a combination that effectively minimizes their herniated disc pain. However, in situations where the pain persists or gets worse despite numerous attempts at conservative treatment, patients may wish to discuss surgery as a potential next step.
Herniated disc surgery
There are two main approaches to herniated disc surgery: a traditional open spine method or minimally invasive procedures that have become possible due to advances in medical technology and surgical technique. At Laser Spine Institute, our surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgeries on an outpatient basis using a less than 1-inch incision. This contributes to a shorter recovery time and less risk of complication compared to traditional open spine surgery.^ To learn more, contact us today.
We are pleased to offer a free MRI or CT scan review* to determine if you are a potential candidate for one of our procedures.