Each vertebra in the spine is separated by a disc. These disks are composed of a tough fibrous outer ring (annulus fibrosus) and a gel-like center (nucleus pulposus). Functioning much like shock absorber, they spread out the weight bearing forces in the spine.
What happens when there is a herniated disc?
As we age, our discs deteriorate. When this happens, repetitive stress or injury may cause damage to one or more discs. The gel center may then protrude out of the damaged fibrous ring and put pressure upon the spinal cord, nerves, or other sensitive tissues. When this happens, you may experience pain or symptoms such as weakness, numbness, or tingling.
How is it diagnosed?
To diagnose a herniated disc, your physician will review your health history and perform a physical examination. They may also recommend imaging such as x-ray, MRI, or CT scan. Electromyography (EMG) testing may also be used to assess nerve conduction.
What are the treatment options for a herniated disc?
Many patients respond well to conservative treatments. Rest and bracing are often effective. Medication or injections may be used to reduce pain. Physical therapy is often beneficial as well. If conservative treatments are ineffective, surgery may be considered.
Dr. Wahlquist explains how herniated disc symptoms are treated.
Although nonsurgical treatment can resolve 90 percent of spine pain cases, research shows us that surgery provides the best outcome in some specific circumstances. Dr. Strothman explains how to know when herniated disc surgery can provide a better outcome.
Back pain is frequently triggered by one of three disc conditions: a disc herniation, a disc bulge, or spinal stenosis. We explain what a herniated disc is and how it occurs.