A herniated disc, commonly referred to as a “slipped” or “ruptured” disc, is one of the most common conditions for which a patient will consult a spine specialist.
A herniated disc may occur anywhere in the cervical (neck area), lumbar (lower back area), or thoracic (chest area) regions of the spine. When a disc becomes herniated, a portion of the disc moves into the spinal canal, causing pressure on the spinal cord or the spinal nerves.
The disc (intervertebral disc) acts as a compression cushion between the bones (vertebrae) along the spinal column. The disc is an extremely important structure, which allows for spinal motion while helping to protect the spinal cord, as well as the nerves in the spinal canal.
A herniated disc is a common injury that can affect any part of the spine. A herniated disc can cause pain, numbness or weakness in the arms or legs.
The symptoms of a herniated disc depend upon where in the body the herniated disc occurs, and if there is significant enough pressure on the nerve.
Symptoms can be relatively mild to quite painful, drastically limiting mobility and leaving the patient incapacitated, depending upon the type of disc herniation, as well as its positioning.
Causes: A herniated disc can occur to individuals of all ages. Certain risk factors that may increase the likelihood of a herniated disc are:
- A hard slip-and-fall.
- Lifting heavy weight (especially with improper form).
- Constant twisting motion in the back, particularly jerky and uncontrolled movements.
- Result of any type of accident, vehicular or otherwise.
Common symptoms of a lumbar disc herniation are:
- Muscle Spasms in the lower back
- Moderate to Severe pain in the lower back, buttocks, and hamstrings.
- Lumbar Radiculopathy or Sciatica. The symptoms from a nerve being compressed (or ‘pinched’) as a result of a herniated disc. These symptoms can include:
- Burning feeling
- Numbness or tingling from the lower back to the buttocks, thighs, legs and feet
- Weakness may result in the muscles of the legs or ankles, especially if there is severe pressure on the nerve(s)
A cervical disc herniation occurs when the disc becomes herniated in the upper spine area, nearest to the neck.
Common symptoms of a cervical disc herniation are:
- Muscle Spasm in the neck and shoulders
- Moderate to Severe pain in the neck and around the shoulder blade or scapula
- Cervical Radiculopathy. The symptoms from a nerve being compressed (or ‘pinched’) as a result of a herniated disc. These symptoms can include:
- Burning feeling
- Numbness or tingling from the neck to the shoulders, arms, forearms, and hands
- Weakness may result in the muscles of the arms and hands, especially if there is severe pressure on the nerve(s)
The majority of disc herniations will improve without surgery. Common non-surgical treatment options include:
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Epidural Injections
If pain becomes severe enough, or there is persistent or worsening muscle weakness, or your overall condition deteriorates quickly, surgery may be necessary. The surgeons at Comprehensive Spine Care work together to develop a comprehensive treatment plan based specifically on your symptoms, the results of your physical exam, and the MRI results.
For a lumbar disc herniation, surgery is typically a Lumbar Microdiscectomy, a minimally-invasive outpatient procedure to remove the disc fragment compressing your nerve.
For a cervical disc herniation, the most common surgical options are Posterior Cervical Discectomy/Foraminotomy, Anterior Cervical Discectomy, and Fusion, or an Artificial Disc Replacement. If you might be feeling any of these related symptoms contact us today and get your back diagnosed.