In between each spinal vertebra is a spongy disc, which supports spinal flexibility and serves as a shock absorber between the bones. Spinal discs have a stiff exterior surrounding a gelatinous center of collagen and water. A herniated disc occurs when damage to the disc causes the inner layer to bulge out and leak, irritating the surrounding nerves.
A herniated disc can cause you to feel pain in the immediate area surrounding it, as well as along the entire affected spinal nerves, causing symptoms of radiculopathy, sciatica, and pinched nerves. Typically, herniated disc treatment from a pain management doctor in New Jersey focuses on alleviating the symptoms and restoring your range of motion.
The symptoms of a herniated disc vary depending on its location and where it puts pressure on the spinal cord. Damage can occur in either the cervical or lumbar spine.
The cervical spine is the upper back and neck. Only about 8% of herniated discs occur in this part of the spine, according to Mayfield Brain and Spine, which can cause:
Most herniated discs are in the lumbar region (or lower back). Symptoms include:
It’s worth noting that some people have herniated discs without any symptoms. Research from ScienceDirect suggests that as many as 25% of adults have a bulging or herniated disc without any symptoms at all. As long as the condition doesn’t worsen and starts causing pain or neurological symptoms, there’s no need to seek treatment.
The most common reason for a herniated disc is age-related wear and tear. Over time, disc degeneration occurs, weakening the outer rind of the disc to the point where it can tear. The weaker the disc is, the more likely a simple action like bending over to pick something up will cause it to herniate.
Other possible causes of a herniated disc include:
Doctors diagnose herniated discs via a variety of tests. After reviewing your medical history and symptoms, they will evaluate:
The physician may be able to diagnose a herniated disc based on the results of these tests. Further testing, such as X-ray, MRI, or EMG tests, may be necessary to determine the extent of your condition and the best treatment plan.
In most cases, doctors take a conservative approach to herniated disc treatment. Only about 10% of cases require surgery, according to NYU Langone Health.
It’s more likely that your treatment will include:
If those treatments prove ineffective and your symptoms don’t improve or get worse, surgery may be the best option to reduce pain. Your doctor will consider factors like your age, how long you have had pain, previous treatments, and the expected outcome of the surgery when determining whether you’re a candidate for one of the following surgeries:
If severe back pain disrupts your life and keeps you from doing things you enjoy, make an appointment at New Jersey Pain Care Specialists. Dr. Bram and associated physical therapists, surgeons, and pain management providers will review your condition and previous treatments to get to the bottom of your pain and develop an effective herniated disc treatment plan. You can expect dedicated, compassionate care that gives you the time and attention necessary for an accurate diagnosis.
To make an appointment to explore options for treatment of your herniated disc, call (732) 720-0247. Our doctors accept some insurance plans, including workers’ compensation, no-fault, and PIP (personal injury protection). Same-day appointments may be available.
Many symptoms of a herniated disc resolve on their own in time. Doctors may consider you healed if you have a full range of motion and no pain, even if the disc still has damage.
Simple activities and movements like sitting, driving, bending, coughing, and sneezing can cause a herniated disc to put more pressure on the surrounding nerves, causing pain.
With herniated disc treatment, most people recover within three to four months, according to OrthoInfo. You may experience periods of pain, but with rest, medication, and physical therapy to treat the symptoms of the herniation, you can make a full recovery without surgery.
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