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TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center
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Herniated Disc

Discs are small circular, compressible cushions between the vertebral bones in the spinal column. They act as cushions for the vertebrae. A herniated disc bulges from its proper place, putting pressure on spinal nerves. This is most common in the lower spine.

A herniated disc is caused by reduced water content, which results in flattening and less cushioning. It can also be the result of trauma.

Could you have a Herniated Disc? Please call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.

Herniated Disc Risk Factors

A herniated disc is generally associated with normal aging. It is more common in people after age 30 years of age. Other factors that may increase your chance of a herniated disc include:

  • Trauma from a fall, accident, or sudden twisting
  • Strain on the back - either repeated or sudden, as from lifting a heavy weight
  • Certain jobs that require heavy lifting
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes

Herniated Disc Symptoms

A herniated disc may cause:

  • Pain
    • May be sharp, dull, piercing, aching, burning, or throbbing, depending on the disc and size of herniation
    • May spread over the back, buttocks, down the back of one thigh, and into the calf
    • May be in one leg or both legs
  • Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the legs, feet, or in one or both arms
  • In severe cases, inability to find comfort even lying down
  • Sudden aching or twisted neck that cannot be straightened without severe pain
  • Cauda equina syndrome - involves bowel or bladder changes and/or numbness in the groin
    • Note: This is an emergency, call 911 right away.

Herniated Disc Treatment

Staying active may be better than bed rest. Treatments may include:

Physical Therapy

The following therapies may be used:

  • Back or neck massage and physical therapy to:
    • Relax the neck or back muscles
    • Decrease pain
    • Increase strength and mobility
  • Back and abdominal exercises
  • Hot or cold packs to reduce pain and muscle spasms
  • Chiropractic care
  • Using weights and pulleys to relieve pressure on the discs and keep you from moving around
  • A neck collar or brace for a herniated disc in the neck to relieve muscle spasms

Medications

Your doctor may advise:

  • Over-the-counter or prescription pain relievers
  • Muscle relaxants to reduce muscle spasms

Interventional Spine Care

Interventional spine care treatments may include:

  • Steroid injections into the area around the nerve and disc to reduce pain and inflammation; the injections are used if other medications do not work
  • Minimally invasive procedures may include:
    • Nucleoplasty
    • Intradiscal electrothermy (IDET)
    • Chemonucleolysis

Surgery

Surgery may be used for people who fail to respond to other treatments. Immediate surgery is necessary for cauda equina syndrome. Options include:

  • Laminectomy - removal of some of the bone over the spine and of the problem disc
  • Microdiscectomy - removal of fragments of herniated disc through a small incision; this procedure is also known as intervertebral discectomy
  • Spinal fusion - fusing of vertebrae together with bone grafts or metal rods; this is rarely done for first-time disc problems
Concerned about a Herniated Disc? Please call TriStar MedLine® at (615) 342-1919 to make an appointment with one of our specialists.