Herniated disc

What is a herniated disc?
A disc that is herniated has ejected some of it’s jelly like interior through a crack or rupture in it’s outer core. The jelly can impact a nerve root or the spinal canal causing a combination of leg and back pain.

The spine is a complicated and versatile structure that supports our weight, allows for twisting and bending of the trunk, and houses the spinal cord. The spine is divided into segments, each containing a vertebral body, a cylinder of bone lying just in front of the spinal cord. The vertebral bodies are separated by the discs which act as cushions yet allow enough flexibility for twisting and bending. The discs can bulge, protrude (bulging even more), or herniate (rupture).

What is the cause?
Usually trauma of some sort, sometimes obvious like on exertion of very heavy lifting, sometimes more subtle as with a cough or sneeze.

Is herniated disc disease preventable?
Not entirely. Proper lifting techniques, staying physically fit, maintaining ideal body weight and avoidance of smoking are all very helpful.

What treatment options are available?
If muscle paralysis, incontinence, or totally numb buttocks accompanies the disc herniation, then immediate surgery is usually indicated.  Otherwise the back and leg pain can generally be controlled with simple steroid injections at the site of the herniation/nerve compression.  Over time some herniations shrink and the ejected jelly is reabsorbed.

When should I call PainCare?

  • pain has persisted or worsened despite conservative approaches
  • difficulty accomplishing normal, daily activities
  • persistent leg or arm pain, weakness, numbness, tingling


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