Your spinal discs are made up of several layers: a fibrous outer layer called the fibrous ring, and a soft, jelly-like, inside core called the central pulp.
When a disc is damaged, the soft inside layer can break open and start to bulge out of the outer layer of the disc. This is what is referred to as a herniated disc, and can result in moderate to severe pain. Herniated discs are more common in the lower vertebrae.
If you think you’re experiencing symptoms from a herniated disc, you may want to make an appointment with us at California Spine & Pain Institute to determine the best course of treatment.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE A HERNIATED DISC?
When the soft, gel-like center of your spinal disc starts to push outward against the disc’s outer layer, this causes a bulge, or herniated disc. The condition can cause significant pain, and if some of the fluid from the disc leaks out, that pain can become more intense and start to affect the nerves, causing numbness or sometimes a sharp pain in the extremities.
A herniated disc is caused by a number of different factors, including injury or trauma. When we experience a fall or hard knock, this can impact the spine and cause vertebral compression, which can in turn apply pressure to your spinal discs and form a herniated disc.
In many cases, the natural effects of aging can cause herniated discs. When we get older, we lose some of the fluid in the spinal discs — this fluid gives them less “bounce,” and leads to weakening of the discs.
Any condition which adds pressure to the spine can cause a herniated disc to form, including obesity, remaining sedentary, lifting heavy items, and repetitive motion.
WHAT IS THE RIGHT TREATMENT FOR ME?
In many cases, the first approach is conservative management of your condition, including applying hot or cold compresses, stretching exercises, and physical therapy. Steroid injections, muscle relaxants, pain medication or anti-inflammatory medication may also help your condition.
Surgical treatments may include a laser discectomy, in which a laser vaporizes a small portion of the gel-like interior of an intervertebral disc to reduce the pressure caused by bulging or herniation.
Another surgical treatment option is a microendoscopic discectomy, a minimally invasive surgical procedure which removes the damaged or herniated disc material from the spine relieving the pain caused by pressure on the nerve root or spinal cord.
If you’d like to discuss possible treatments and the best course of action to relieve your pain, contact a patient advocate at California Spine & Pain Institute – we look forward to helping you!