Herniated discs occur when the outside of your intervertebral disc is damaged, and the soft, sponge-like center breaks open and bulges out from its original position. The discs of the spine are like a jelly donut – they have a soft center but are tougher on the outside. If the center breaks open or bulges out of this tough exterior, it becomes a herniated disc. This in turn causes a variety of problems and typically results in moderate to severe pain. A herniated disc is more common in the lower back and less common in the upper back area.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A HERNIATED DISC?
The first symptom of a herniated disc is usually pain, which is typically felt in the middle or lower back, directly over the affected disc. Pain may also radiate around to the front of your body and depending on where the herniated disc is located, tingling or burning can be experienced in the buttocks and legs or neck and arms.
Herniated discs are typically a result from an injury or lifting something heavy, but aging is the most prevalent cause. People approaching middle age are most susceptible due to the normal wear and tear associated with the aging process. Aside from age and injury, individuals who are overweight can also be at high risk for a herniated disc, as carrying the extra weight can put unnecessary strain on the discs that make up your spine.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR ME?
Herniated disc treatment will most likely begin with conservative options such as pain or anti-inflammatory medications, exercise and physical therapy. Cortisone injections are also used to help identify the specific cause of your pain. When these methods are not enough to provide pain relief or a herniated disc is impacting your quality of life longer than six months, surgical treatment is required.
If your herniated disc becomes severe, our doctors recommend a minimally invasive treatment called artificial disc replacement. This procedure is performed in an outpatient setting within just a few hours, allowing for a quicker and less painful recovery period spent in the comfort of your own home.