Explore Herniated Discs
Herniated discs are also called “slipped” discs or “ruptured” discs. As discs degenerate, fragments of the disc material can press on the nerve roots located just behind the disc space, causing pain, numbness or changes in sensation.
Herniated discs can be very painful. While herniated discs can be brought on by a sudden injury, they are a natural part of your spine aging. There are other risk factors that make a person more likely to experience a herniated disc, including:
- Gender: more likely to afflict men than women
- Being overweight: extra weight puts extra stress on your lower back
- Improper lifting: always lift with your legs, not your back. By lifting a heavy object with your back instead of legs, you are putting extra stress on your back
- Frequent driving: sitting for long periods of time in the car and the vibrations from a car can put pressure on your spine
- Sedentary lifestyle: exercising regularly is important in preventing many medical conditions, including a herniated disk
- Smoking: smoking lessens oxygen supply to the disk and can cause disk degeneration
To determine if you have herniated disc, your doctor will request that you have an MRI scan in addition taking your medical history and performing a thorough physical examination.
Most patients with herniated discs do not require surgery and use a combination of the following nonsurgical treatment options:
- Anti-inflammatory medication (like ibuprofen or naproxen)
- Physical therapy: Specific exercises can strengthen your back and abdominal muscles, which can relieve pressure on your lower back
- Steroidal injections: You can receive a shot of steroids in your back, which can reduce inflammation and discomfort
If nonsurgical treatment options do not relieve your herniated disc, you may be a candidate for surgery. The most common type of surgery our spinal surgeons perform to relieve a herniated disc is a microdiscectomy. For this procedure, an incision is made in your lower back over the area where your disc is herniated. The herniated part of your disc and any extra loose pieces are removed from the disc space. Other types of procedures for a herniated disc include a discectomy and a lumbar interbody fusion. Sometimes surgery to relieve a herniated disc is called bulging disc surgery.