Herniated Disc

//Herniated Disc

Herniated Disc Overview

A common source of back pain in Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area residents is a herniated disc. Often referred to as a “ruptured” or “slipped” disc, this condition typically occurs in the neck (cervical spine) and lower back (lumbar spine). A disc herniation can lead to pain and other troublesome symptoms, but in many cases, a patient experiences alleviated symptoms in a fairly short amount of time with nonoperative options prescribed by the spine specialists at Texas Sports Medicine.

What is a Herniated Disc?

Discs within the lumbar and cervical spine are positioned between adjacent vertebrae. These discs play an important role in spinal health by reducing friction, helping with bending and flexing of the spine and acting as “shock absorbers” between the hard bones (vertebrae).

Discs located in the lower back (lumbar spine) are composed of a thick outer ring of cartilage (annulus) and a gel-like inner substance (nucleus). Discs located in the neck (cervical spine) have a similar composition but are much smaller in size. These discs are high in water content and must remain pliable and hydrated to properly function.

For a number of reasons, the discs may begin to dehydrate and degenerate over time. These changes cause the discs to become brittle and prone to injury. When a split or crack develops in the outer ring of cartilage (annulus), the inner gel-like substance (nucleus) can slip out through the fissure. This is when a herniated disc occurs.

A disc herniation can cause irritation of nearby nerves and/or the spinal cord leading to unwanted symptoms.

A herniated disc in the lumbar and cervical spine can be the result of the natural aging process, spinal trauma, repetitive stress and overuse, genetics, unhealthy body weight, poor nutrition and tobacco use.

Symptoms of a Herniated Disc

  • Lumbar spine
    • Back pain
    • Intense pain in the buttocks, thigh, calf and foot
    • Weakness in the leg and/or foot
    • Tingling and numbness in the leg and/or foot
  • Cervical spine
    • Neck pain
    • Burning pain in the shoulders and arm
    • Arm weakness
    • Tingling and numbness in the arm

Treatment of a Herniated Disc

Nonoperative

  • Rest
    • Stop all activities that intensify symptoms
  • Medications
    • NSAIDs, muscle relaxers and analgesics help alleviate symptoms
  • Ice
    • Apply ice packs or cold compresses for less than 20 minutes each session several times a day
  • Injections
    • Cortisone injections help address inflammation
  • Physical therapy
    • Specific exercises designed to minimize the pain level
  • Regenerative Medicine formulations
    • Platelet Rich Plasma injections
    • Bone Marrow Aspirate Concentration a.k.a. “Stem Cell” injections

Operative

  • Microdiscectomy
    • Surgical technique: The protruding part of the disc is removed so the nerve root pressure is alleviated.
  • Cervical and lumbar fusion
    • Surgical technique: The spinal disc is removed and the adjacent vertebrae are fused together with metal hardware.
  • Disc replacement
    • Surgical technique: The spinal disc is removed and an artificial disc is implanted in the space between the vertebrae.

After Surgery

Recovery after operative treatment for a herniated disc varies depending on the surgical technique performed. The spine specialists at Texas Sports Medicine will prescribe detailed rehabilitation protocols to all patients before surgery.

For more information on a herniated disc in the lumbar or cervical spine, please contact the Dallas, Frisco and Fort Worth, Texas area spine specialists at Texas Sports Medicine.

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