Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc

A Herniated Disc is a Common Source of Pain That Often Can Be Treated Without Surgery

A herniated disc is a prevalent source of neck, arm, back, and leg pain is typically seen in adults between 30 and 50 years of age. Also referred to as a slipped disc or ruptured disc, a herniated disc can occur anywhere in the spine. Most often, it occurs in the cervical spine (neck) or lumbar spine (lower back), typically causing “a pinched nerve.”

If you are experiencing pain or numbness in the neck, arm, lower back, or leg, you could be suffering from a herniated disc. During your appointment, you will be evaluated to accurately diagnose your pain.

What’s a Disc and Why Is it Causing Pain?
Discs are soft, rubbery pads located between the bony vertebrae that make up the spinal column. Composed of a thick outer ring of cartilage (annulus) and an inner gel-like substance (nucleus), discs allow the back to bend and also act as shock absorbers. The spinal column surrounds and protects the spinal cord and nerves. When the cartilage develops a defect or tear, the nucleus can break through. Much like toothpaste, the nucleus bulges out or herniates, putting pressure on the nerves. Even slight amounts of pressure can cause pain, numbness, or weakness.

A herniated disc in the lower spine can put pressure on the sciatic nerve (sciatica). The sciatic nerve is comprised of several spinal nerve branches as they travel from the spine down the length of the leg. When pinched, sciatic pain may be experienced anywhere along these branches, radiating from the buttocks down the back of the leg and sometimes through the shin and foot. Often, leg pain occurs without any back pain.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
A herniated disc causes different symptoms, depending on where the injured disc is located. Low back pain and/or leg pain (sciatica) are the most common symptoms of a herniated disc in the lumbar (lower) spine. Pain may vary from mild to severe. Symptoms may be experienced suddenly or gradually and may also include:

  • Pain in both legs
  • Burning, tingling (a “pins–and–needles” sensation), or numbness in the buttock, leg, or foot
  • Pain with specific movements, usually bending forward or twisting
  • Intensified pain with prolonged sitting, bending, sneezing, or coughing
  • Weakness in one or both legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (note that this is rare)

Neck and arm pain occurs when the herniated disc is in the cervical (neck) vertebrae. In addition to pain in the
muscles between your neck and shoulder, other symptoms may include:

  • Shooting pain down the arm
  • Pain when turning or twisting the neck
  • Tingling, numbness, or weakness, usually in only one arm
  • Intensified pain with prolonged sitting, bending, sneezing, or coughing
  • Weakness in one or both legs
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control (note that this is rare)

Yes…Your Herniated Disc Can Be Treated Without Surgery
Often, the symptoms of a herniated disc will resolve gradually with simple measures such as a modification of activity, analgesic and anti-inflammatory medications, and physical therapy. However, when the pain and discomfort of a herniated disc persist, many people successfully gain relief with epidural steroid injections known as epidural nerve blocks.