A herniated disc is a common injury that can affect any part of the spine. A herniated disc can cause severe pain and other problems in the arms or legs.
Herniated Disc Causes
A herniated disc occurs usually with gradual wear and tear of the disc, called disc degeneration. The center of a vertebral disc is fluid filled and loss of this fluid can lead to less flexibility and increased risk to tear or rupture. When the fluid filled, soft, central region of the disc (nucleus pulposus) pushes through a tear in the outer ring of the disc, a disc herniation, rupture or fragmenting of the disc can occur into the spinal canal.
Herniated discs can be caused by an injury, repetitive stress on the lower back or heavy lifting and twisting movements. In most instances, however, a herniated disc is the result of gradual aging and general wear and tear on the spinal discs.
Your risk of a herniated disc includes age, weight and occupation. A herniated disc is most common in middle age, men, and in people with excess body weight (especially the stomach area) and in people with physically demanding jobs.
Learn More about Disc Herniation
Disc Herniation in the Cervical Spine
Herniated Disc Pain Symptoms
Some pain management patients may have a herniated disc without knowing it, even though a herniated disc may show up on imaging studies. The most commonly known herniated disc pain symptom is sciatica pain, felt in the buttock and legs. If a nerve is not compressed, the herniated disc may cause a backache or no pain at all. The most common pain symptoms of herniated discs are as follows:
- Arm pain – if the herniated disc is in your neck, the pain typically is worst in the shoulder and arm, but can also affect the hands and fingers as well.
- Leg pain – the most common areas of pain include the buttocks, thigh and legs that can travel to the feet and toes.
- Numbness and tingling – herniated disc pain management patients often experience this in the area or body part that is innervated by the affected nerves.
- Weakness – the muscles that are innervated by the affected nerves tend to get weaker causing herniated disc pain management patients to stumble, fumble with objects or drop things.
If you ever experience weakness and numbness along with loss of control of your bladder or bowels, you should seek medical care from a doctor immediately. This could indicate a serious problem requiring immediate medical care and pain management treatment.
Herniated Disc Pain Management Treatment Options:
A physical exam and medical history are the main ways a herniated disc is diagnosed by a herniated disc pain doctor, but to get a more detailed analysis or rule out any other possible conditions, imaging tests like x-rays, CT scans or MRI’s may be recommended by a doctor.
When patients do get herniated disc pain symptoms, pain management treatment may be recommended ranging from simple exercise and medication to possible injections to help with herniated disc pain management. There are various treatment options that help with pain management from herniated discs:
- Epidural Steroid Injection
- Discography for Appropriate Surgical Evaluation
- Intradiscal Heat Therapies: IDET and Biacuplasty
- Laser Assisted Disc Decompression
- Percutaneous Disc Nucleoplasty
- Physical Therapy
At Nura, pain management doctors value the importance of an interdisciplinary approach. For those treatments not offered by Nura, we are able to refer you to other specialists.