What is a herniated disc in the spine?

A herniated disc in the spine is when inner disc material pushes through a rupture in the outer wall of a spinal disc. This is a very common condition that can cause local pain as well as symptoms that radiate along the length of a compressed nerve to other areas of the body. Depending on the exact location, cause and severity of the problem, a herniated disc in the spine can be treated in a number of different ways. If you are experiencing symptoms you believe to be related to a herniated disc or other spine condition, you should see your doctor for diagnosis and to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

What causes a herniated disc?

Spinal discs lie between the vertebrae in the spine, cushioning the vertebrae and letting them bend and flex. However, because of the immense of pressure they are put under every day, the discs are vulnerable to developing degenerative conditions like herniation. Factors that cause herniated discs are those that either weaken the discs or add to the pressure placed on them. These causes include:

  • The natural aging process, which causes the discs to dry out and lose elasticity
  • Participation in high-impact sports that put a tremendous strain on the spinal column
  • Jobs that require extended periods of sitting or frequent bending, lifting or twisting, which might damage the discs
  • Obesity, which increases the strain placed on the spinal column, especially the discs
  • Using tobacco or consuming excess alcohol, either of which can dry out and weaken the discs
  • Traumatic injury, such as an automobile accident

Treatment options

Herniated discs are very common and there are many treatment options available. In most cases, physicians recommend that patients attempt to first manage symptoms with a course of conservative treatment like hot and cold compresses, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, light exercise, posture improvement and weight management. Your doctor can also advise on a plan to quit smoking, if needed.

If, however, you fail to experience satisfactory pain relief from this approach, you may be asked to consider surgical intervention. At Laser Spine Institute, we offer minimally invasive outpatient spine surgery that is a safer and effective alternative to traditional open neck or back procedures.^

To learn more and find out if you are a candidate for one of our procedures, contact us today and request a no-cost review of your recent MRI or CT scan.*

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