Discs are the rubbery cushions that act as buffers between the bones of your vertebrae. A herniated disc is a common cause of back pain. When a disc herniates, the jellylike center of the disc, known as its nucleus, pushes out through the tough exterior, called the annulus. Herniated discs also may be referred to as ruptured, bulging or slipped discs. While some people with a herniated disc don’t experience pain, for others, the pain can be debilitating.
A herniated disc is one of several possible causes of pain that originates in the spine. When you have back pain, numbness, weakness or other back pain symptoms, it’s imperative that you get an accurate diagnosis. Reach out to the spine experts at Premier Brain & Spine, New Jersey’s top neurosurgery and spine specialists, for all your back pain issues to receive the most effective solutions.
A ruptured disc often presses against a nerve, triggering back or neck pain. Pain that develops quickly and worsens with movement is often the first sign that you may have a herniated disc. Other symptoms of a herniated disc that you may experience include:
The location of your pain or numbness depends on the location of the slipped disc. Ruptured discs are most common in the lower back, but can occur in any spinal disc. The only way to know for sure if the cause of your symptoms is a bulging disc is by visiting your NJ ortho specialist for a thorough evaluation and diagnostic imaging tests.
Degenerative disc disease is a condition that causes your spinal discs to become less flexible as you age. It’s one of the most common causes of disc herniation. Over time, your discs lose some water content, making the space between your vertebral bones narrower. This loss of fluid and flexibility makes the discs more prone to rupture with a slight turn or sudden movement. Factors that contribute to disc herniation include:
Herniation usually occurs because of accumulated wear and tear over the course of many years. In rare cases, a physical blow to your back or a fall can cause a slipped disc.
A sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of many health problems, including disc herniation. Other risk factors that put you at a higher risk of developing a herniated disc include:
Smoking is believed to be a risk factor for rupturing a disc as well. Smoking reduces the oxygen supply to your spinal discs, which may increase the speed of degeneration. Sitting in one position for long periods of time or frequent driving also strains your spine.
Back pain can interfere with the normal activities of daily living. Visit your NJ spine surgery center as soon as possible if:
Losing bowel or bladder control may be a sign of a rare but serious condition called cauda equina syndrome. Seek medical attention right away if this happens because this condition can lead to permanent paralysis if you delay treatment.
If your back pain isn’t severe, your New Jersey orthopedics doctor may recommend simple home care techniques to relieve your discomfort. Some of the most common home remedies include:
Bedrest usually isn’t recommended. Stretching is beneficial, and lying in bed can lead to weaker muscles and general stiffness.
The treatment of a herniated disc depends on the severity of your symptoms. If a conservative approach using ice, heat and over-the-counter medication doesn’t work, your NJ orthopedist may recommend:
Using a non-surgical approach to treating a slipped disc, most people feel much better in four to six weeks. Surgery at a top-rated spine surgery center like Premier Brain & Spine is an option only when other forms of treatment aren’t successful. Minimally invasive procedures take the pressure off the nerve root. Surgical options include:
After surgery, you may need to avoid certain movements — such as twisting, bending and lifting — for several weeks to reduce the risk of a repeat herniation. In most cases, you can resume your normal routine in one to three weeks.
At the NJ spine center Premier Brain & Spine, you learn that the natural aging process causes your spinal discs to gradually deteriorate. So you may not be able to completely prevent herniation. But there are some things you can do to give yourself the best chance of keeping your spine in good working order, such as:
If you have a job that requires sitting all day, take regular breaks. It’s a good idea to get up and walk around every hour if you can. Use good posture when walking, sitting and standing to reduce pressure on spinal discs. When lifting heavy objects, bend your knees and use your leg muscles for strength rather than bending at the waist and relying on your back.
Ignoring a herniated disc leads to long-term chronic pain and even to permanent nerve damage. The doctors at Premier Brain & Spine have successfully treated thousands of patients with ruptured discs, scoliosis, spinal tumors, spinal cord injuries