Herniated Disc Treatment in New York
What is a Herniated Disc?
A herniated disc is a spinal condition that happens when one of the flexible cushions that are found between the bones in your back pushes out of its normal place. A similar condition called a ruptured disc, occurs when the disc leaks some of its inner fluid out. With either of these conditions, the disc pushes outside of its normal space and often puts pressure on nearby nerves. This causes chronic back pain and must be treated by a certified spine doctor. At Specialty Orthopaedics, we treat all kinds of neck and spine conditions, including herniated discs.
What Causes a Herniated Disc?
Your spinal discs become weaker over time due to the natural aging process, which makes them more susceptible to damage. Anyone could experience a spinal disc herniation as they get older. However, there are some additional factors that contribute to your spinal discs weakening, which could lead to a herniation earlier in life. These include:
- Being overweight
- Lifting heavy objects
What are the Symptoms of a Herniated Disc?
If you experience any of the following herniated disc symptoms, speak with one of our herniated disc doctors who can help you determine whether you’re suffering from a herniated disc:
- Back pain
- Burning sensation in the spinal area
- Tingling or numbness in your back or legs, known as sciatica
- Bladder control problems
- Weakness in your legs
How is a Herniated Disc Diagnosed?
Our orthopedic surgeons in Harrison, New York are committed to educating our patients about their conditions and the treatments used to manage their conditions. During your evaluation, we talk with you about all of your symptoms and concerns and then explain to you the possible conditions causing your back pain. We will likely conduct one of the following imaging tests before making a final diagnosis and suggesting treatment options:
- CT scans
- MRI scans
We may also conduct a nerve test, which shows us how your nerves are responding and exactly where your disc herniation has happened.
How is a Herniated Disc Treated?
At Specialty Orthopaedics, we make every effort to treat and manage your condition using conservative options when possible. These might include:
- Ice or heat therapy
- Massage therapy
- Exercise therapy
- Physical therapy
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Pain medications
When conservative options do not heal your condition, or in severe cases, we may recommend discectomy fusion surgery to restore your back function.
Who Is an Ideal Candidate for Herniated Disc Treatment?
If you are experiencing ongoing symptoms of a herniated disc, you are a good candidate for treatment. Multiple treatment options exist. Every herniated disc may respond uniquely to a particular form of clinical therapy. Surgery is not indicated for every case, which may set your mind at ease as you consider scheduling a consultation with an orthopedic specialist. Because herniated discs can cause significant discomfort and limited range of motion, it is wise to seek treatment sooner rather than later. With proper care, including ice, rest, and over-the-counter pain relievers, the symptoms of a herniated disc may go away in four to six weeks. If symptoms persist, it is advantageous to schedule a visit with a doctor who will perform a thorough medical exam and relevant imaging tests to accurately identify the cause. From there, clinical treatment can be discussed. Surgery is the last resort and is usually chosen by patients whose work and quality of life have been significantly impacted by the symptoms of the herniated disc. With advances in surgical techniques, the procedure to repair the affected spinal disc is conservative, relatively quick, and has a shorter recovery period than older surgical approaches.
What Happens if a Herniated Disc Is Not Treated?
A herniated disc may improve with rest and modified physical activity. With proper care, the inflammation caused at the nerve root can subside. If the herniated disc is compressing or irritating a nearby nerve root and the condition is not treated, the symptoms associated with nerve inflammation may worsen. Symptoms may flare during certain movements or may become chronic over time. Ongoing pressure and irritation to the nerve could lead to permanent nerve damage. With that, there are risks such as difficulty walking, sciatica, bladder or bowel dysfunction, and a condition called saddle anesthesia. This condition involves the loss of sensation in the area around the rectum, the back of the legs, and the inner thighs, areas that would touch a saddle when sitting on a horse.
What Not To Do with a Herniated Disc
Herniated discs, whether in the cervical spine or lumbar spine, are susceptible to movements and force. If you have a herniated disc, it is important that you avoid high-impact activities like playing sports, running, and aerobics. Depending on where your symptoms are occurring, your body will guide you in which movements to avoid and which to do more of. For example, if you have a herniated disc in your low back, sitting may become very uncomfortable very quickly. On the other hand, sitting may bring relief if your symptoms tend to occur more often when you stand. In addition to following your body’s cues to find its pain-free zones, you can help the affected nerve heal by avoiding activities that require bending, twisting, or reaching.
Is a Herniated Disc Permanent?
The herniated disc involves damaged cartilage, which may mean that the structural problem will be permanent. Cartilage is very strong but it has poor vascularization. Without much blood flow through it, the damaged cartilage lacks the nutrients and reparative cells that normally facilitate tissue regeneration. That said, while the disc may not heal, the symptoms of the herniated disc may go away with time, rest, and appropriate medical treatment when called for.
When Should You See a Doctor for a Herniated Disc?
Seeking a diagnosis and treatment for back pain and other symptoms is a personal decision. One question to ask yourself about when to see a doctor is how you feel on a daily basis. If you’re consistently in pain or your daily activities have been altered to avoid discomfort, you may be at an ideal point to benefit from a thorough consultation and examination. Clearly, if you are in excruciating pain, you need to see a doctor. Here, we can discuss the various ways in which your comfort and mobility can be improved.
Schedule Your Herniated Disc Consultation Today!
If you are experiencing herniated disc symptoms, visit Specialty Orthopaedics. Our New York orthopedic practice is home to a team of fellowship-trained orthopedists in a variety of orthopedic specialty areas. We offer comprehensive treatment for musculoskeletal disorders in a caring and responsive clinical atmosphere. Give us a call at 914.686.0111 or fill out the form on this page to schedule your appointment today.