Approximately 80% of Americans will suffer from back pain in their life. Majority of cases of back pain are due to spinal issues. Your spine is critical. It keeps us upright, it contains all our major nerves and connects it to our brain. Our spine allows us to walk and bear weight. With how important it is, it’s no wonder how troublesome it can be when it comes to degeneration or injury.
Herniated Disc. What is It?
In between each vertebrae in your spine is what is called a spinal disk. It is a rubbery cushion that has a soft jelly-like center and a tougher, rubber exterior. When a herniated disk occurs, some of that soft jelly like center, the nucleus, pushes out through a tear.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
- Lower Back Pain
- This can occur when a herniated disc presses on a nerve causing minor to extreme pain. If it occurs in the lumbar region, it can cause an electric shock type of pain that affects only one side of the body.
- Slipped discs in the lumbar area can also press on your sciatic nerve which becomes pain that travels from your gluteal region into your leg and down into your foot.
- Neck Pain
- A herniated disc can compress a nerve in your neck as well. This causes pain in your neck and shoulder blades. The pain can radiate down through your arms to your hands and fingers.
- Nerve compression can lead to paresthesia. Paresthesia causes tingling, chilling, burning and/or lack of sensation. Often, patients report a “pins and needles” feeling.
- Muscle Weakness
- Reflex Loss
- Foot Drop
Symptoms can vary greatly depending on where the herniated disc occurred on your spine. There is potential for many symptoms to none at all. Especially if a nerve doesn’t become compressed from the ruptured disk.
So How Do You Treat It?
Depending on the severity of the herniated disc, some may not seek or need any treatment, some may take the natural non-surgical approach and some may have to undergo surgery based on the doctor’s recommendation.
If mild, you may be advised to maintain a low, painless activity level for a few days to several weeks. This will help the spinal nerve inflammation decrease.
Medications might be prescribed as well. Often a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication is used if the pain is moderate.
Another option is an epidural steroid injection which may be performed under X-ray to direct the medication to the exact level of the herniated disc.
The doctor may recommend physical therapy. The therapist will perform an in-depth evaluation, which, combined with the doctor’s diagnosis, dictates a treatment specifically designed for patients with herniated discs. Therapy may include pelvic traction, gentle massage, ice and heat therapy, ultrasound, electrical muscle stimulation and stretching exercises. Pain medication and muscle relaxants may also be beneficial in conjunction with physical therapy.
Other options that are non-invasive and rapidly growing in popularity is Rejuvadisc. At Select Health, their RejuvaDISC program utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and procedures to target the failed mechanisms that have allowed your disc(s) to bulge, herniate, or degenerate. By giving your bad discs what they need to heal, we are able to activate your discs’ built-in mechanisms for healing and self-repair, which in turn can correct or improve your bad discs, allowing you to improve or eliminate your symptoms, improve your quality of life, and avoid a spinal surgery. If you’re interested in this technology click here.
Lumbar Spine Surgery
This is a procedure used to relieve leg pain and sciatica caused by a herniated disc. It is performed through a small incision down the center of the back over the area of the herniated disc. A portion of the lamina may be removed which should relieve nerve tension. Once the incision is made through the skin, the muscles are moved to the side so that the surgeon can see the back of the vertebrae. A small opening is made between the two vertebrae to gain access to the herniated disc. After the disc is removed, the spine may need to be stabilized. Spinal fusion often is performed as well with a laminotomy.
Cervical Spine Surgery
A portion of the lamina may be removed through a laminotomy, as well as the removal of the disc herniation for the posterior approach.
If you receive this surgery anteriorly, after your disc is removed, the spine needs to be re-stabilized. This is done by the use of a cervical plate, interbody device and screws.
Ideally, many patients don’t want to have to go under the knife due to the invasiveness of the surgery, the downtime after surgery, the potential dangerous risks, and medication side effects.
Luckily there are other options to consider. RejuvaDISC® treatment protocols can help relieve your pain and can work even when all else has failed. Select Health’s program has a high chance of success because it gets to the real problem that other treatments miss or do not address with non-surgical procedure resulting in a more effective and longer lasting solution to your pain without side-effects.
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