A herniated disc is a problem with one of the rubbery, shock-absorbing cushions located between each of your spinal vertebrae. These cushions, also called spinal discs, have a soft jelly-like center encased in a tough rubbery exterior. When the inner jelly-like center pushes through a tear in the exterior portion of the disc, the condition is called a herniated disc, also known as ruptured disc or slipped disc.
This condition can occur in any part of your spine and can irritate a nerve resulting in numbness, weakness, or pain in your back, neck, arm, or leg. The symptoms may sometimes be severe enough to disrupt your life and require surgical treatment, but usually the condition gets better with lifestyle modification and conservative therapy.
The top methods for treating a herniated disc include:
Rest for a few days followed by Physical Therapy: Taking it easy and avoiding any bending or lifting activities for a couple of days can help reduce swelling, pain, and inflammation in the area. As soon as you are able, you should start physical therapy to improve core strength, flexibility, and endurance. Physical therapy may include stretching exercises, aerobics, massage, ice & heat therapy, electrical muscle stimulation, and ultrasound therapy.
Pain Medications: If symptoms don’t get better with rest and activity modification, you may need to take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. To avoid side effects, pain medications should only be taken as recommended by your doctor. Your doctor may also prescribe strong prescription medications that relieve severe pain or muscle relaxants to relieve muscle spasms.
Spine Injections: The next line of treatment would be an epidural injection in which a steroid is injected into the space near the affected spinal nerve. This can help relieve severe pain, bring down swelling, and improve your mobility.
Surgery: Most people diagnosed with a herniated disc do not require surgery. On the rare instances when conservative treatments mentioned above fail to resolve the condition, surgery should be considered. The various surgical treatments include –
- Discectomy – A small portion of the disk that is pressing on the nerve is removed.
- Laminotomy – Removal of a small piece of bone that covers your spinal cord.
- Spinal Fusion – Joining together of the 2 vertebrae on either side of the herniated disc.
- Artificial disc replacement – Replacement of the damaged disc with a prosthetic one.
If you have back or neck pain that radiates down your arms or legs with or without weakness, tingling, or numbness; visit the spine specialists at the NewportCare Medical Group for accurate assessment and treatment recommendation.
NewportCare Medical Group is a comprehensive specialty group located in Newport Beach, California specializing in advanced non-surgical and surgical treatments for a wide range of orthopedic conditions.