Herniated discs can be painful and keep you from your favorite activities. Fortunately, most of the time, a herniated disc will improve on its own after a few days or weeks. But, if your pain continues to interfere with your daily life activities, a spinal specialist can help you find relief. The teams at TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine offer the latest in diagnostic imaging and specializes in advanced surgical care to get you back to feeling good.
Your spine includes discs between each vertebra, which act as a cushion for the bone. These discs have a tougher exterior and a jellylike center. Sometimes, a tear can form in the outside of the disc, allowing a small portion of the inside to be pushed out. This is a herniated disc. The pressure from the disc can press against nerves, which causes pain or numbness in the arm or leg.
Herniated disc causes
The most common cause of a herniated disc is gradual wear and tear related to aging. The cause of a herniated disc can result from:
- Lifting heavy objects improperly (using your back instead of legs to lift)
- Minor twists and strains
Herniated disc symptoms
The most common symptoms of a herniated disc include:
- Arm or leg pain, usually on one side
- Back or neck pain
- Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
Herniated disc treatment
Treatment for a herniated disc can help ease symptoms and reduce pain. Spinal specialists start with a conservative approach before recommending surgery. Treatment options may include:
- Physical therapy – Stretching and strengthening exercises, guided by a certified physical therapist, can improve flexibility and stability of the spine, build strength and endurance and even improve your balance. All these can help reduce your symptoms.
- Steroid injections – Corticosteroid injections reduce inflammation and help relieve pain caused by spinal stenosis.
- Medicine – Over-the-counter and prescription medicine can help relieve chronic pain, reduce inflammation and help you find comfort.
- Acupuncture – Thin needles are inserted into specific spots along the spine to trigger the release of certain chemicals into the body, helping reduce pain. Acupuncture is typically used along with traditional treatment, like pain management or physical therapy.
- Massage – Medical massage therapy can help reduce inflammation, ease pain and provide relief from certain back conditions. Your doctor may recommend massage therapy along with other treatments.
If pain is present after you’ve tried conservative treatment options, you may be a candidate for surgery. Often, minimally invasive procedures can be performed as an outpatient. Surgical options may include:
- Cervical discectomy and fusion – The damaged disc is removed and replaced with an artificial disc. You may also need a fusion surgery, which helps fuse two or more discs with hardware to stabilize and support the cervical spine (neck).
- Microdiscectomy – As an outpatient procedure, your surgeon removes a tiny bit of the herniated disc to relieve pressure on surrounding nerves.
Herniated disc risk factors
You may be at higher risk of getting a herniated disc if you:
- Have a physically demanding job that requires to you lift heavy
- Have a family history of back problems
- Are overweight or obese
Herniated disc prevention
A herniated disc can’t be completely prevented, but you can lower your risk of developing this common back condition:
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Strengthen back and core muscles
- Eat healthy
- Sit up straight
- Lift with your legs; not your back
Make an appointment
At TriHealth Orthopedics & Sports Institute and Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, our spinal specialists are here to help you get stronger and return to good health. Find the right treatment for your herniated disc. To learn more or make an appointment with an orthopedic specialist: Call TriHealth at 513 246 2300 or our orthopedic partner, Beacon Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine, at 513 354 3700.