Herniated Discs

Herniated Discs

The spine is made up of vertebrae separated and cushioned by spongy discs. A herniated disc occurs when some of the disc’s nucleus pushes out through a tear in the wall. A herniated disc can occur anywhere along the spine, most often in the lower back, and can result in pain, numbness or weakness in an arm or leg. Many people have no symptoms. People who do have symptoms tend to improve over time. Surgery is usually not necessary to relieve the problem.

Herniated disc symptoms

Most herniated discs occur in the lower back, but they can also occur in the neck or elsewhere along the spinal column. Symptoms depend on location and whether the disc is pressing on a nerve. Herniated discs usually affect just one side of the body.

You can also experience sharp or burning arm or leg pain, pain in your buttocks, thigh, calf and even a foot. A herniated disc in your neck may cause the most pain in your shoulder and arm. Pain might shoot into your arm or leg when you cough, sneeze or move to certain positions. Also common are numbness or tingling, muscle weakness and difficulty lifting or holding items. You might not know you have a herniated disc unless it shows up on a spinal image.

Herniated discs treatment

Conservative treatment is mainly modifying activities, avoiding movement that causes pain and taking nonprescription pain medication (Tylenol, Advil. Aleve, etc.). These can often relieve symptoms within a few days or weeks.

Neuropathic drugs can affect nerve impulses to decrease pain. These include gabapentin (Neurontin), pregabalin (Lyrica), duloxetine (Cymbalta), or venlafaxine (Effexor XR). Cortisone injections can help when your pain doesn’t improve with oral medications. Spinal imaging can help guide the corticosteroid injection site more precisely. We might also suggest physical therapy to help with your pain. Physical therapists can show you ways to minimize the pain of a herniated disc.

Surgery is needed by very few people with herniated discs. When the doctor recommends a Discectomy, it means that conservative treatments failed to improve your symptoms after six weeks, especially if you continue to have:

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