Can Herniated Discs Go Away?
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc, also known as a slipped or ruptured disc, happens when part of the soft center of the disc pushes through its outer edge and into the spinal canal. The rupture puts pressure on the nerves in your back. The nerves in the back and spine are extremely sensitive to even the slightest amounts of pressure, so pain, numbness, or weakness in one or both legs can result.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
As a person ages, the material of a disc degenerates naturally. The ligaments that hold the discs in place also weaken with age. During this process, a slight strain or twisting movement can be enough to cause a disc to rupture. Also, at any stage of adult life, a more intense strain or injury can result in a herniated disc. Genetics may also play a role in causing ruptured discs.
What Are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
Some herniated discs may result in no symptoms, but others can be quite painful. This depends on the rupture's location on the spine and the severity of the rupture. Symptoms that can be signs you have a herniated disc include:
- Shooting nerve pain on one side of your body
- Numbness, weakness, or tingling in the leg
- Stiff neck
- Neck muscle spasms
- Bowel or bladder incontinence (requires immediate medical attention)
- Burning pain in the shoulders, neck, or arm
- Inability to lift with your arms
How Does Your Doctor Diagnose a Herniated Disc?
Your doctor will talk to you about your symptoms and conduct a physical exam. Imaging tests such as X-rays, MRI scans, and CT scans can also be performed to diagnose a herniated disc. A nerve test that measures how well your nerves perform can also be conducted.
What Are the Treatment Options for a Herniated Disc?
If a herniated disc is not causing any symptoms, it’s not necessary to treat it. If it is causing symptoms, non-surgical methods are tried first, which can include:
- Ice or heat therapy
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Exercise therapy
- Cortisone injections into the affected area
When is Surgery Needed for a Herniated Disc?
If non-surgical methods fail or the herniated disc is severe, a surgical procedure called a lumbar discectomy and fusion may be recommended. Your surgeon makes an incision and carefully moves muscles and tissues to gain access to your lumbar spine. Then the herniated disc is removed. The vertebra that surrounds the ruptured disc is fused together. The fusion prevents rubbing, which is causing your back pain. The muscles and tissues are put back, and the incision is closed.
If you are experiencing symptoms of a herniated disc, make an appointment today with Specialty Orthopaedics in Harrison, NY. We’ll provide the most effective forms of treatment to help relieve your herniated disc.