Herniated discs are a common cause of back pain, occurring when a disc in the spine ruptures or bulges. This can cause significant discomfort, weakness, and numbness, especially if the damaged disc presses on a nerve root. The condition may be caused by wear and tear, age, or injury. Symptoms depend on the location of the herniation but may include sciatica or arm pain. If you experience numbness in both legs or loss of bowel or bladder control, seek medical attention immediately. Diagnosis involves a physical examination, and testing such as an MRI may be needed to confirm the herniated disc. Treatment options range from non-surgical methods like epidural steroid injections and physical therapy to minimally invasive surgeries performed by our Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeons. Our team offers comprehensive treatment options tailored to your needs, with minimally invasive procedures that decrease recovery time. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our Spine Specialists and learn more about herniated disc treatment options.
The bones that form the spine in the back are cushioned by small spongy discs and when these discs are healthy, they act as shock absorbers for the spine and keep the spine flexible. But when the disc is damaged, it may bulge or break open. This is called a herniated disc and it may also be called a slipped or ruptured disc.
You can have a herniated disc at any part of your spine, but most herniated discs are located in the lower back (lumbar spine) or neck (cervical spine) and rarely in the upper back (thoracic spine). A herniated disc may be caused by wear and tear of the disc, age, or an injury. Any of these causes may cause tiny tears or cracks in the hard outer layer of the disc. When this happens, the gel inside of the disc can be forced out through the tears or cracks in the outer layer of the disc. This causes the disc to bulge, break, open, or break into pieces.
Symptoms of a herniated disc are most likely caused when a disc presses on a nerve root. This can cause pain, numbness, and weakness in the area of the body where the nerve travels. A herniated disc in the lower back can cause pain and numbness in the buttock and down the leg. This is often referred to as sciatica. You can get similar symptoms in either arm if a disc in the neck becomes herniated.
If you have weakness or numbness in both legs along with loss of bladder or bowel control, you need to seek medical care right away. This could be a sign of a rare but serious problem called cauda equina syndrome.
Herniated discs are usually diagnosed via a physical examination but additional testing such as an MRI or a CT scan will help confirm the herniated disc or rule out other health issues that may be causing these symptoms.
Treatment for disc herniations can vary depending on the location of the herniated disc and the severity of the herniation.
You can ask one of our Spine Specialists about medicine or other treatments that may be beneficial such as epidural steroid injections. Epidural steroid injections are fluoroscopically guided injections that can significantly improve the symptoms of a herniated disc and may allow your body to heal itself with much less or sometimes no pain.
Epidural steroid injections are just one of the many treatments that we perform and can be very beneficial in treating herniated discs. At times the injection alone is sufficient to provide relief, but commonly epidural steroid injection is used in combination with a comprehensive rehabilitation program that includes Physical Therapy to provide additional benefit.
Importantly, an injection can provide sufficient pain relief to allow a patient to progress with a rehabilitative stretching and exercise program. If the initial injection is effective for a patient, he or she may have up to three in a 6-12 months period of time.
In cases where non-surgical treatments have not resolved the symptoms of a herniated disc, our Board Certified Orthopedic Spine Surgeons may discuss the option of a surgical procedure. Unlike in years past, most spinal procedures can now be performed using a minimally invasive approach that requires only a small incision and significantly expedites recovery time.
While there are several Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery options for a herniated disc, the goal for any of these procedures is to remove the herniated portion of the disc(s) and alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.
Our Board Certified and Fellowship Trained Orthopedic Spine Surgeons are among the most experienced anywhere in New Jersey and are experts in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgical procedures.
For more information about herniated disc treatment options, please contact our office today to schedule a consult in any of our offices. Our friendly and knowledgeable medical team will be happy to answer questions and help you schedule a consultation.