Phoenix Herniated Disc Treatment Options
Disc Herniations (Cervical, thoracic, and lumbar)
Disc herniations occur when one of the intervertebral discs separating the vertebrae of the spine ruptures. When a disc herniates, the gel-like inner material of the disc breaks through a crack in the tough outer coating, often pressing on spinal nerves and causing pain, numbness, and weakness.
People sometimes describe the pain from a herniated disc as a “pinched nerve.” A herniated disc may also be referred to as a “ruptured disc” or a “slipped disc.” For this reason, herniated disc treatment is often referred to as “slipped disc treatment.”
A bulging disc is different from a herniated disc. With a bulging disc, the degenerating disc material in the lumbar disc bulges out between the vertebrae but does not break through the outer coating. Bulging discs are less likely to interfere with spinal nerves.
Symptoms of a Herniated Disc
Symptoms of a herniated disc will vary depending on where the herniation occurs. Disc herniation can occur in the neck ( cervical spine), upper back (thoracic spine), or lower back (lumbar spine).
Herniated discs generally cause:
- Pain in the arm, shoulder, or one or both legs
- Numbness or tingling in arms or legs
- Weakness in arms or legs
- Sharp pain aggravated by sitting (lumbar) or moving a certain way
If the herniation occurs in the neck, symptoms may be experienced in the shoulders or arms. If it occurs in the upper back, you may feel pain around the rib cage, chest, or in the upper abdomen. Lumbar disc herniations often cause intense pain in the buttocks, thigh, and calf, sometimes reaching all the way down to the ankle or foot.
Some people with herniated discs don’t have any symptoms at all. In very severe cases, nerve compression caused by a herniated disc in the lumbar spine can lead to loss of bowel or bladder function.
Who gets a herniated disc?
Most herniated discs are due to normal, age-related deterioration of the spine, but sometimes something happens that causes a disc to herniate. Trauma to the spine, heavy lifting (with improper lifting techniques), or sudden twisting movements (such as when golfing) can cause a disc to spontaneously herniate.
A herniated disc can occur in people of all ages, and regardless of overall health (in fact, athletes frequently require lumbar herniated disc treatment). Several factors can contribute to the development of a herniated disc. These include:
- Age: As we get older, the discs in our spine gradually lose their water content and become less flexible, making them more prone to injury.
- Occupation: Jobs that involve repetitive lifting, bending, or twisting motions, as well as those that require prolonged sitting, can increase the risk of developing a herniated disc.
- Weight: Excess body weight puts added stress on the spine, increasing the likelihood of disc problems.
- Genetics: Some people may have a genetic predisposition to developing herniated discs.
- Poor posture: Slouching, improper lifting techniques, and maintaining poor posture over time can contribute to disc herniation.
- Trauma: Accidents or injuries that put excessive pressure or strain on the spine can lead to disc herniation.
While these factors can increase the risk, anyone can develop a herniated disc. It is a relatively common condition and can occur even in individuals who do not possess these risk factors. If you suspect you have a herniated disc, discuss it with your doctor.
Treatment for herniated discs
Some herniated discs can be treated conservatively. Dr. Baig recommends starting with these methods wherever possible:
- Rest: Taking a break from activities that worsen the symptoms can help relieve pain and allow the disc to heal.
- Pain Medications: Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may be prescribed to reduce pain and inflammation. In some cases, muscle relaxants or oral steroids may be used.
- Physical Therapy: Specific exercises and stretches can help strengthen the back and abdominal muscles, improve flexibility, and alleviate pressure on the disc.
- Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the affected area may help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Epidural Steroid Injections: Injections of corticosteroids near the affected nerve can provide temporary relief by reducing inflammation.
Typically, the pain will go away first, with numbness, tingling, and weakness taking slightly longer to resolve.
If conservative treatment doesn’t help, a herniated disc may need to be surgically corrected. It’s important to note that surgery is typically considered when conservative treatments fail to provide relief or if there is significant nerve compression resulting in severe pain, muscle weakness, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
- Minimally-invasive endoscopic spine surgery for those who are candidates
- Minimally-invasive open discectomy
Dr. Baig custom-tailors his disc herniation treatment plans to the patient’s specific needs.
What Happens if You Don’t Treat That Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc can be a painful and frightening thing. But if you don’t seek treatment for a herniated disc in the lower back, it won’t just go away on its own.
Here in our Phoenix-based practice, herniated disc treatment options are available that can help you get herniated disc pain relief, enabling you to return to your active lifestyle and the things that you love. If home remedies or conservative therapy provide relief for some time, delaying further treatment could actually make it worse
Here are some things to be on the lookout for if you have a herniated disc in Phoenix and you’re delaying herniated lumbar disc treatment.
If you have a herniated disc and you’re looking for pain relief in Phoenix, you’ll have to see a professional. If not, that pain will get worse, even if it doesn’t hurt that much today. That’s because a herniated disc is a condition that takes a while to set in, and the slow onset can lead some to believe that it won’t get much worse over time or that it might go away in a few days. It won’t.
In addition to a slow increase in pain, neglecting herniated disc treatment actually gives you fewer options, not more. A herniated disc can be the result of bone-on-bone grinding, but it can also lead to pinched nerves, as well as tingling or numbness in the extremities. Furthermore, it can cause weakness and muscle aches, in addition to weird sensations in the lower body, legs, and feet.
Tissue or Nerve Damage
But the biggest worry is that by leaving that herniated disc untreated, you could be raising the risk of soft tissue or nerve damage, which is the result of some kind of rupture or damage in the nearby tissues or nerves around your herniated disc.