A herniated disc, also called bulged, slipped or ruptured, is a common cause of back and neck pain. Fortunately, there are several options for treatment and in most cases do not require surgery.
What is a herniated disc?
Your spine is a column of backbones (vertebrae) stacked on top of one another. Discs are the rubbery, soft pads in between each vertebra that provide your spine with cushioning, stability, and flexibility.
Discs are made of a tough outer ring with a gel-like center (nucleus). A herniated, ruptured, or slipped disc happens when part of the nucleus pushes out through a tear in the outer disc. This may irritate nearby nerves, causing pain, numbness, or weakness in your arm or leg.
What causes a herniated disc?
Disc herniation often results from age-related wear-and-tear damage called disc degeneration. Over time, discs lose their water content and become less flexible. This makes them more prone to tearing.
Certain factors may increase your risk of getting a herniated disc, including:
- Being overweight
- Lifting with poor posture
Occupations or activities that require repetitive motions, such as bending, twisting, lifting, or pulling may also increase your risk of a herniated disc.
How do I know if I have a herniated disc?
Most herniated discs occur in the lower back (lumbar spine), but they can also happen in your neck (cervical spine). Symptoms of a herniated disc vary depending on the location and severity of the rupture, but may include:
- Low back or neck pain
- Weakness in your arm or leg
- Tingling or numbness in your arm or leg
You may have a herniated disc without experiencing any pain or symptoms. In rare instances, a herniated disc in your lower back may cause a loss of bowel or bladder control.
How is a herniated disc diagnosed?
First, your physician performs a physical exam and reviews your symptoms and medical history. They may also take imaging tests, such as:
In some cases, they may also need to measure your nerve functioning with a nerve conduction test or electromyography (EMG).
How is a herniated disc treated?
After reaching a diagnosis, your physician recommends the best course of treatment for your specific condition. This generally begins with nonsurgical treatments that focus on relieving pain and restoring function to your spine. Treatments for a herniated disc may include:
- Physical therapy
- Wearing a back or neck brace
- Pain-relieving medications
- Spinal steroid injections
To find relief from a herniated disc, call Tarpon Interventional Pain & Spine Care, 972-596-1059 or schedule an appointment online today, www.tarponpa.com.